I am nearly finished reading this booked called ‘Educated’ by Tara Westover. Oh my goodness. I CAN’T put it down. It’s a memoir that certainly needed to be written. You know how some 20-somethings write ‘memoirs’ and you’re just reading it thinking, ok first, did this person ever read anything apart from the back of a jam jar? And secondly, this person did not live life yet, and the life they lived already is so mundane that they really should not have written about it.

But, like, teenagers buy this book by the millions because it’s a famous YouTuber that they love.

Yes, this book is NOT like those books. Sure, Tara Westover is relatively young, but her life is so strange and odd and powerful, and the way she writes is so intense and gripping, that I have to read it every second I get, and when I am not reading it I am thinking about it.

It’s all about how she was brought up in the isolated mountains of Idaho as a Mormon, with an extreme father. She never set foot in a school and her family thought the Medical Establishment was part of the Illuminati and the Government were evil and wanted to control everybody. She barely learnt anything ‘academic’, but her life was filled with roughness, injury, thinking on the spot and extreme resourcefulness. In spite of, or perhaps because of this, she managed to succeed at exams to get her into a good university, which then allowed her to get a very prestigious scholarship into Cambridge University.

The story is gripping, detailing, among other things, the horrific injuries she, her siblings and parents obtained from reckless and ruthless actions (driving through snowstorms with no seats in the car and enduring severe accidents, climbing into dumping baskets in a junkyard, setting themselves on fire ‘accidentally’) without medical intervention, just recovery at home at the hands of their herbal expert mother. I cannot get it out of my head.

Above all, this story inspires me so much. That a person who had never studied or read anything apart from the Bible and Book of Mormon could then go and write the ‘best essays seen in 30 years of teaching’ (Cambridge senior profession proclamation) SHOWS me that sometimes what we pin as of ultimate importance, perhaps is just not that important. Maybe training kids from an early age to think the academic thoughts others have had before them and which have been refined for their brains is the wrong way to go about it? Maybe you ought to let children be as free as possible, and think as much of their own individual thoughts as possible, in order to create great thinkers within them?

Tara Westover describes her childhood as ‘loveless’, she was abused physically by her older brother, and felt that all her siblings and her mother suffered at the hands of her bipolar lunatic father. Yet at the same time she was given experiences that very few other children have. She worked in a junkyard with her father at age ten and learnt so many things which she applied in her later years studying at college, things which were not academic in the slightest but gave her a high advantage over others who had been trained for this sort of education their whole lives.

One of the main things to take away from this book is that the author suffered crippling depression from the aftermath of what she endured as a child. She became ostracised from her family for daring to speak up about the physical and verbal abuse she received from her older brother, but she still weathered through it and got a PhD, achieved her goals, and above all, did not let her experiences mould her. She decided to take control and mould herself. That is what is inspiring about Tara Westover.

If you love reading about lives that are out of the ordinary, and minds filled with the richness of learning, both physical and mental, and experiences which are painful and horrific but also very true, and which shaped a life in such an interesting way, then this book is certainly for you.

It’s for sure for me. It’s made me even more determined to get a Master’s degree, something I have been wanting for a while but have been dubious about following through with.



The sun has not yet risen completely, it struggles through some pinkish clouds, a colourful backdrop to the silhouette of a cherry blossom tree, now downy and pink. The car door of a 2005 Nissan Micra opens, a black boot with the toe worn away is pulled into the driver’s side, the door slams shut. Engine rumbles. BBC Radio 4 starts, 7:25am with a discussion on whether or not Britain should stay in the European Union.

I don’t have many thoughts on the matter. I know most politicians are arguing their cases based on personal gain. Nobody really cares about what will happen to the rest of us. Are we safer? Are we more susceptible? I’m inclined to stay, mostly because I don’t like massive change. The last time we had such a big change, bombs were being thrown down on London.

Boots walking on the pavement. Sometimes trainers. Sometimes wet, sometimes dry. Sound of ice scraper scraping away frost off the windows of my Nissan Micra. Ice chips flying over the edge of the windscreen, breath clouding as red-cold fingers tap the ice scraper on a red brick wall, and slip it into the car door pocket.

Knocking on a wooden door.

Bags and shoes clattering down a narrow corridor. Two boys clambering into my car, shoving each other as they do.

“Don’t talk to strangers!”

“Have a nice day!”

A blue scarf is wrapped around my neck, a light blue jacket, slightly rumpled, adorns my shoulders. I carry a black backpack, containing my laptop and all my study books.

Into the glass library, hot cup of black coffee swirling, loud tapping on a keyboard.

A cough. Two coughs.

Chatter over books.

Chatter over chips about books.

A pile of books falling on the table, feverish thumbing through the pages. Hours stretched out in the Glass Library on the sofa, the light from the laptop screen heavy illumination in the dimness of the library at midnight.

The frost stops.

I say goodbye to my family who are going to visit my dad for Easter. I didn’t go with them because I am bogged down with assignments.

D and I travel to March, a small town with one high street and a quaint little museum. We have a Subway, buy some books from a charity shop, and drive on to Sutton Bridge. It’s windy and cold and barren, and nobody walks along its narrow streets. Lots of houses are run down and empty, graffiti scrawled on their broken walls. We drive to Hunstanton beach the next morning, and a storm drives us indoors, wet and shivering. We have jacket potatoes and tea. King’s Lynn  is empty because it’s Easter Sunday, so we watch Zootropolis in an ancient picture house. The seats are red velvet, and the ceilings are heavily designed, stained glass windows adorn the balcony looking out over the black and white tiled lobby.

The clocks go forward.

The sun shines.

The blossoms open their pretty pink and white petals to embrace the deep blueness of the sky.

I am again sitting in the dark, typing away, twenty two years old and not a day wiser, each click of the clock a loud, muffled thump as the last second of March ticks by.




Love Letters #2

26th April, 1927

My Dearest Petra,

I am writing this on a warm day in April. It’s the blossoming month, and I am looking forward to summer when you and I both can enjoy a glass of lemonade on the promenade…

I couldn’t write anymore, my fingers shook and itched uncomfortably, and the words spilled out of my pen in a scraggly, scrawling mess. It was jittery and wrong.

I dropped my pen on the pristine white tablecloth, and glanced around me. The hotel restaurant was slowly filling up with people, the murmur of their voices rising as shining cutlery clinked and domed dishes were brought through by meticulous waiters brandishing cloths.

Would I ever enjoy a glass of lemonade with Petra on the promenade again? Petra with her long curly hair, gleaming ringlets of honey dropping across her rosy face. Petra with her soft, caressing hands and large, innocent eyes. Petra with her almost too-wide mouth, her slightly plump, curved body.

The last thing she did before I left was tuck my collar over my cashmere jumper, so that it sat neatly. Her eyes were focused on her work, as though it were a tremendous task of great importance. Perhaps, to her, it was. Then she touched my face, looking into my eyes.

“Be good, Tom.”

I watched her forget-me-not dress ruffle wildly behind her as she huddled inside a large grey goat, her arms folded against the furious wind that flew in from the ocean behind her. My carriage trundled away, her figure becoming ever smaller and darker in the distance as the waves crashed madly against the sharp, black rocks so close to the looming towers of the fortress she called home.


Oh I do like to be beside the seaside
I do like to be beside the sea
I do like to stroll upon the Prom, Prom, Prom
Where the brass bands play
So just let me be beside the seaside
I’ll be beside myself with glee
And there’s lots of girls besides
I should like to be beside
Beside the seaside, beside the sea.

I crumpled up the piece of paper, and pulled a postcard out of my pocket instead. It depicted a painting of King’s College chapel of Cambridge, the magnificent face of the building illuminated by bright sunlight. The paint strokes depicting the water and the vivid, grassy bank were flawless. I fingered the sharp edges of the card for a few moments, before taking up my pen.


It’s beautiful here. Exams are looming up ahead, and the boys are keeping their noses to the grindstone, believe it or not. As am I, in fact. Terribly sorry I haven’t written in a while, too much going on, last year of Medicine and all that. Looking forward to summer and lemonade on the promenade. Keep well. 


I surveyed it. One of the lines was smudged where the side of my palm had accidentally rested on the wet black ink. I was acutely aware of how cold the note was. I was careful to omit any references to the both of us, together. She would hurt, I know, but it would harden her, this uncertainty, and when I returned she would be icy but hopeful. I slipped the postcard into my pocket, and left the restaurant.


“Be good, Tom.”

Her words echoed in my brain as the beautiful lady walked up to me. She was nothing like Petra. She was glamorous and tall. A simple country dress would not do for her, she wore expensive jewels and silk scarves. Her hair was glossy and glorious, piled at the back of her head. Her curls were neat and carefully arranged, and dotted with tiny, glittering diamonds. I took her hand and placed it in the crook of my arm, and we both walked into the ball together. I murmured a scathing comment about the event, and she bent her head over my arm in silent laughter. I knew how to charm girls like her.


“Be good, Tom.”

Had her voice been hopeful? Was there a tinge of fear to it, as though she knew, long before anything had happened? I lay in bed all night thinking about Petra, until the dim light of predawn filtered through my drawn curtains and threw being to the dark shapes around my dorm. Clothes strewn over the floor, books and papers scattered all over the desk. I didn’t want to get up, but I hauled my tired body out of bed anyway.

I threw all my clothes and books in a jumbled heap together into the open trunk by the door, and by the time I had finished, my curtains were struggling to hold back the bright morning sunlight filtering in. I pulled them to, and allowed my room to flood with the warm, golden rays of June.

I washed and dressed, and dragged my trunk down the stairs and out into the courtyard, where my lift to the train station awaited me.

On the train, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the postcard she had sent me. It was a grainy photograph of the seafront in summer, the beach dotted with folk too far away to see clearly. It was an image of happiness and hope.

On the back her charming, curly handwriting took up every inch of the card, written as neatly and small as possible. She did have quite a lot to say.

2nd June, 1928

Dearest Tom,

Things at Cambridge must be extortionately different from home. I do hope you do well, darling, and I do look forward to your return in the summer. Three years since I last saw you, and you barely write me, you naughty thing. I did know you wouldn’t though, so don’t feel too terrible about it all. Just come home and we shall catch up like the old days. I think Katie and Morgan shall be home too, and we can all get together and it will be like nothing has changed. I do know it has, though, dearest. I am not going to delude myself it hasn’t, and I can tell you it hurt quite a bit at first. But I am a big girl, now. I have some good news to tell you when you get home, and shan’t hint at it at all except to say William has been around quite a lot recently. He’s helped Mama tremendously and she says she doesn’t know what we would have done without him.

Lots of love,


I leant my head against the window as the landscape sailed past. The clouds were scarce, and the morning sky was a deep blue. The window was warm where my forehead rested on it, in direct sunlight. Summer had truly arrived. My stomach growled a little and I realised I hadn’t eaten since, well, the day before yesterday, when the card had come through.

Lemonade on the promenade.

How could I have written that? What was I expecting, that she would await me at home, ready to welcome me with open arms after I had spent three years gadding about Cambridge? I was expecting that. That would be the sort of thing the Petra I knew, or thought I knew, might have done. Perhaps I hadn’t known her at all, and all those years of friendship blossoming into romance had been taken for granted in my mind. I knew she adored me, and that made me brazen.

I hadn’t really taken the time to really know her. Had I?

September 13th, 1925

Dearest Petra, 

Have arrived safe and sound, so don’t you worry. Went in for registration yesterday, and met one of my professors. Mighty eccentric old fellow, but mightily clever to boot. You would thrill over the library here, my dear. Crammed with books, and many gardens for you to read in, although probably not as winter arrives in full force. You’re a seaside gal, though, aren’t you. I’ve made a few friends and they have come round for games a few nights. Mustn’t make too much of a habit of it, though, and remember what I’ve really come for. I want to make an honest man of myself for you, darling, and can’t believe it’s only been eight days since I left you by the wild sea. It feels like half a century. I will write more when more happens, but for now sleep well my dear, and write me lots about everybody and everything you do, for I am dying to know.

Yours truly, 



Imagine an hourglass, filled with jade crystals the size of sand grains, glittering in yellow candle light. Ten crystals or so fall through at haphazard intervals, tinkling against the glass as they tumble over each other, creating a small, gleaming emerald mound.

Those are my seconds, so small and so precious, falling away from me, just as this month fell away from me. It slipped off my shoulders like a delicate, silk wrap, and I only noticed it was gone because my shoulders started to shiver. We are promised some Arctic winds for March, folks.

This month I worked my butt off on an assignment about Wuthering Heights. The essay question asked me to discuss how Emily Bronte’s work overlaps gothic and domestic themes, and I discovered a few satirical themes on femininity and Victorian ideals hidden away in Wuthering Heights. Wasn’t I pleased with myself.

I got my paints out on the 29th of February. Time to get those rusty, cricky fingers working again.

February was alright. I gained some weight this month. I know, right? Took one selfie, in which I wore some makeup and a red and black scarf. I fancied I looked quite alright. Looking at the selfie now, I’m not too sure. Chub chub on my cheeks, hair that doesn’t look quite 21 years old.

I met up with friends several times this month. Went to Birmingham for a day out, too. Goals to be more social? Tick that box please!

I felt like I connected more with my siblings this month. It’s a goal I have been struggling to achieve. We aren’t so touchy feely in this family. It’s nice to open up and hear each other out.

I didn’t call my father this month. I texted him a lot though. I should have called him. I feel horrendously guilty. He’s all alone, working hard abroad and I can’t grace him with a single phone call? Horrible child that I am. I cried myself to sleep because of it last weekend.

My husband and I didn’t do anything together this month. Last year in February we went to Venice. The year before in Feb we went to the Lake District. I dunno, I thought we might do something this year.

It was a combination of being broke and overworked, I think, that stopped us. Also since we barely talk anymore, I feel like we are disconnected. We really need to sort our life out, get our own place. But it’s not possible if he is constantly travelling and working, where is the time to talk?

Hopefully we are going somewhere nice in March. D is going to rummage in the attic to see if he can sell his old playstation or perhaps the old stereo. See, he is resourceful.

We both wanted to go to March in March because we are both born in March. March is a small town in Cambridgeshire, around forty minutes drive from the beautiful city of Cambridge. March doesn’t sound so great in theory, though, so I planned that we pass through March and explore a little before settling for a night in the almost-seaside town of King’s Lynn, which is known to be quite stunning and full of fun things to do.

I said, “We can’t go to March, our funds won’t allow it”

But he said, “We’ll find the money, and we will go.” He had so much conviction, and I believed him because he has never let me down before. He knows how to squeeze the pennies out of dry rags, does my husband.

You see the difference between us? I see obstacles, he sees problems that can be solved. When will I learn, huh?

How was your February?

Books and Coffee

Friday we had an adventure.

We pushed through curtains of thick rain and heavy clouds to the city of intellectuals on a gloomy Friday. Did you know that around 30 of all nobel prize winners graduated from Cambridge? Or that Cambridge is not just a university town, but also an industrial town? Scores of markets were torn down to make way for some of the colleges by the river.

Saturday the sun came out, the brides walked their aisles, the tourists snippety snapped as popular  businesses rolled around in cash brought in from Asia and America, Africa and Europe. Namely among them, and I was one of the hundreds to succumb foolishly to it’s charms, was a quaint little affair called called Hardy’s Original Sweetshop.


So needless to say, I enjoyed Cambridge thoroughly. There was a sea of tourists, most notable among them were the Chinese and the Americans, milling about all the most popular places, like King’s college, the Fitzwilliam Museum and most of the punting stations. We also photobombed some wedding shots, and I found The Haunted Bookshop, which appealed to me because a). it was haunted, and b). it was a bookshop.


I am not too sure about the haunting though, I eavesdropped on a tour guide telling a crowd of bored looking Americans that there had been a little girl who was murdered there, and you can tell she is drifting about because she is always accompanied by a smell. I am not too clear on the particulars of the story. The bookshop was messy and small and glorious, with tottering piles of books fitted into every nook and cranny, little notes here and there, and the most exciting books hiding in the most intricate places. There is nothing quite like a long browse through volumes that were once thumbed by ancestors we only read about in books. I found some original Beatrix Potter, Austen and even Shelley! Worn covers and faded inscriptions inside were enough to tell me that the people of yore did in fact exist and they loved books just as much as we do.

The gardens were top notch, and the colleges were the stuff of day dreams and night dreams. And regular thought-dreams.


The feeling that stood out the most for me in Cambridge was that I honestly thought I was in an entirely different world. It felt like I had stepped back in time, or was wondering the cobbled streets of another country. Roses climbed up old stone walls, greenery mingled comfortably with ancient architecture, flutes were played, coffee was had, and tudor houses hunched their breasts out over winding streets.

There was even one instance where I needed to call my husband, and I almost checked myself, thinking ‘oh no, I can’t call him I am roaming!’

But I was still in the UK! It really didn’t feel like it.

Cambridge is a sight not to be missed. Especially if you love books. There were books and bookshops galore. Plenty of coffee, ice cream and parks too. Imagine a fine summer’s day, sitting on a bench with a lovely view of one of the beautiful college chapels, coffee in one hand and an exciting novel in the other.. what could be better, in this ancient university town?