Thoughts | Random Acts of Kindness

Definition: A random act of kindness is a non-premeditated, inconsistent action designed to offer kindness towards the outside world.

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Not too long ago I was working a long evening shift when a customer paying for a one off fitness class had her card declined. Now this is a customer who I serve on a fairly regular basis and genuinely enjoy interacting with as she always takes the time to make conversation, rather than just pretty much ignoring my existence behind the desk unless its to speak orders at me (an occurrence I see far too often for my liking). Several repeated attempts also had the same conclusion and it was looking unlikely that she would be able to make the class. I could tell that the situation was leaving her flustered and a tad embarrassed, and this is something I can fully relate to as having your card declined (whatever the reason why may be) is a rather horrible experience. So I simply offered to cover the cost of the single class myself and sent her on her way.
It was truly amazing to see such a simple gesture met with such joy and gratitude, and the experience has really powered my desire to complete further random acts of kindness and spread love wherever possible.  

A simple act on your part, that often takes minimal effort or anything away from your own resources, can truly make another persons day. Whilst encouraging such a thing is of great importance anyway, I feel that in the current climate the world could really do with a little bit more warmth and love spread from person to person; whether friend, neighbour or a complete stranger.
A little act can have a strong lasting impact on a person and their day, week, month or even year. You truly have no idea of the struggles or personal battles each individual may be facing, and a simple gesture from a stranger may really brighten up their day and provide a little hope.
There are endless examples of a random act of kindness that you can easily slot into your daily life. Be it from leaving a kind note in a public space to covering the cost of the coffee for the next person in line; from helping someone struggling with heavy bags to leaving a slightly larger tip for your server; or simply taking the opportunity to give a compliment. Anything that passes on love and kindness.
Kindness is the key to making the world a better place, and I deeply encourage you to play your part.
"If the world seems cold to you, kindle fires to warm it" - Lucy Larcom

Adventures | The Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London

Harry Potter is the series which sparked my love of literature and passion for reading. I can't remember the point where I was first introduced to the magical world, as I was very young at the time, but that moment sparked an eternal love of the world of Harry Potter and it now would be an impossible task to ask me to put into words how much the series means to me.

Growing up I was obsessed with Potter. I've read the books more times than I could hazard a guess to, seen the films enough times to quote them word for word and spent hours and hours on end playing the computer games, Harry Potter top trumps and anything else I could get my hands on. 

I recently took an - emotional - trip to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour to see where the magic happened and it was a truly 'magical' experience. 

Back in the spring, my boyfriend and I took a little trip to Watford to discover the magic of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. I was lucky enough to receive the tickets as a surprise Christmas present from him (hidden in a copy of the cursed child might I add - I've found myself a gem of a man) and as a Potter-addict I was really rather excited to go.

We caught the train to Kings Cross and then on to Watford Junction to meet the shuttle bus which would take us to the studio. The magic really began on the bus itself as they show you a video featuring extracts from the films alongside interviews with some of that incredible cast. It really immerses you in the magic from the word go which was wonderful. 

As someone who has adored Potter for as long as they can remember, I found the tour itself quite emotional and my boyfriend did catch me blubbering on several occasions. I'm getting goosebumps now just thinking back to that day.

Before your tour starts you find yourself in a mini-cinema to watch a short film - it was at this point that the tears started on my part - before the screen rises and you get the mind-blowing opportunity of stepping into the Great Hall itself. Seeing the screen rise to reveal the set really brought the magic alive and emphasised that you truly are going behind the screen and into the world of Harry Potter.

Dotted around the magnificent Great Hall set are a number of key costumes including the Hogwarts robes for each house and the main costumes for the professors. It's really worth it to take the time to slowly wander around the hall looking at all of the intricate details; it's truly amazing to see how much time and effort has gone into including detailing we can't even see when watching on the big screen.

When you have finished marvelling at the Great Hall you walk through into a stage which houses a number of incredible sets including the Gryffindor common room, Dumbledore's office, Hagrid's hut and the potions dungeon. There's also an extensive number of cabinets keeping safe all of the incredibly detailed props, including the Philosopher's Stone. It also featured an amazing display of the different wands used in the films, each unique to wizard it had chosen. Also in this section was everyone's favourite family home: the burrow. This particular set was really interactive as you could control some of Molly's kitchen tools. 

Moving on you found yourself surrounded by the dark arts in an area which not only displayed incredible costumes but also amazing sets, including the famous dining room scene at Malfoy Manor. A cabinet full of death eater masks was particularly eye-catching as was the weirdly wonderful Borgin and Burke set.

The Ministry of Magic section was also amazing to see, although I was less enthusiastic to encounter the dreaded office of Umbridge. One of the key features of the Ministry set was the infamous muggle-oppression sculpture erected during Voldemort's rein in the second wizarding war. It was the thing that was furthest from how I had imagined when reading the books, but it is still a fantastic sight.

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Next there is a very hold your breath moment as you turn a corner to come face to face with the Hogwarts Express. It is one of the most magical sights on the tour and is a truly beautiful piece. You can actually venture inside the train and move through the corridor, peering into the different carriages as they appeared in each of the films. In the last carriage you come across the costumes and props from the first Hogwarts Express scene, which is a lovely sight. Back on the platform you have the opportunity to have a photo taken 'running at the wall', which (in my mind) is a necessity for every visitor.

You then reach a café, marking the halfway point of your adventure. It's here where you get the chance to try the legendary butterbeer. I'll put my hands up and admit that I wasn't the biggest fan of the drink itself and paid a bit more attention to the delicious cream that topped it.

The café looks out onto the backlot which is your next location. Unfortunately, due to the classic British weather, we were unable to venture outside properly to see the bigger sets such as Privet Drive and the Potter's cottage. We also went a few weeks before the Forbidden Forest opened, but it all just gives us an excuse to make a return visit doesn't it?

The props department was our next port of call, which was full of magical creatures, goblin heads and robotics. It was here that you found out some really cool secrets about how the magic was created, but I won't be dishing out any spoilers I'm afraid.

You've probably guessed what's coming up next... the magnificent Diagon Alley. The set is designed like a proper cobbled street and you can see impeccable details when you peer in through the shop windows.

The final sight of the tour is the breathtakingly beautiful model of Hogwarts. The model is much larger than I was expecting but has been created to an incredible standard with intricate detailing. The lighting in the room really emphasised the show piece and it was at this point of the tour that my tears really started to return.

At the very end of the tour you walk through a small room which takes the appearance of a wand-shop, housing row upon row of wand-boxes; one for every member of the cast and crew who worked on the Potter films. It's an amazing sight to finish an amazing experience.

The gift shop at the end of the tour is an Aladdin's cave for Harry Potter fans. Unfortunately I was on a strict budget so there was no wand buying or purchasing of quidditch kit baby grows 'for the future'.

Overall I had a truly incredible day (incredible being a word which seems to be cropping up a fair bit in this post). The studio tour is an amazing experience and, I know I'm bias talking as a Potter fan but, I'm sure even a muggle would have thoroughly enjoyed themselves

Mischief managed.

Thoughts | Why I Quit Blogging

As September eagerly approaches we're reaching the end of my gap year. A well needed year away from education and, as it turned out, blogging.

The last time I hit publish on a blog post was October 2016. After so many months away, the once familiar act of sitting down and typing out my thoughts seems almost alien. I never intended to pack it all in permanently. But a weeks break quickly became a month, that month became two and before I knew it Yours, Chloe had lay abandoned for ten months.

I'm sure assumptions are made when bloggers 'quit', that they gave up due to the frustration of lack of success. While this will inevitably be the reasoning for a number of bloggers, for myself the reason was a whole collection of little frustrating things about the blogging world that I eventually grew tired of.

Lack of appreciation is something that continues to frustrate me greatly about blogging. As anyone who has ever written a blog will know, the vast majority of posts will take hours to plan, write and edit. Unfortunately this hard work often seems to be over-looked. It's also becoming evident that the internet's eyes are now firmly glued on the media of YouTube and as a result the written word seems to be generally getting less of the appreciation it deserves.

Lack of success is a topic I would like to examine, as its annoyances are definitely something I can relate to, which in part contributed to my blogging hiatus. I would like to stress that I didn't start blogging - nor continue it - with the aspiration of huge success or 'becoming famous'. I entered blogging with a passion for writing, a desire to share my thoughts and to connect with like-minded people. The way blogging should be. But as blogging has grown it's becoming very centred on your success and the number displayed next to the phrase 'follower count'. Blogging has become a competition: who has the most followers; who nabs the best brand collaboration; who has the most insta-perfect photos. As bloggers we seem less focused on the value of the content we are creating and more focused on becoming what is now deemed as successful.

I will of course throw my hands up and admit that at times I have centred everything around my blog's 'success' and put a large focus on the statistics. I've found in the past I've not composed some of the posts I would have liked to in order to stay within the lines of the typically popular posts. The focus on 'How many views will this post get?' definitely takes away from the enjoyment of creating the content. On top of this, the benefits of a regular posting schedule are something which has been heavily publicised within the world of blogging, making it the done thing by all 'successful' bloggers.
Whilst I appreciate that such a schedule may indeed have a positive effect, I have found that working to a schedule has meant that on many occasions the posts that I hit publish on weren't ones I was especially excited about or proud of. And let's be real, what's the actual point in taking the time to create content that at the end of the day you're not fussed about.

A little point, but I also dislike the move blogging seems to have made away from creativity. In recent years everything seems to have become very same-old same-old. Even the photography seems to have lost its creative flair - will I be banished if I say I can't stand flat lays?

At the end of the day I started to blog because I was passionate about writing and that is something I wish to return to. I want to get back to creating posts that I love, rather than posts that may make Yours, Chloe commercially attractive.

My time away from blogging has awoken me to the negatives of the industry and made me realise how much I disliked the attitude to blogging I was developing. But I'm now refreshed and back in the blogging chair. And boy does it feel good.