Skin, Make-Up, Scent & Hair

It’s hard to imagine the days when I would just brush my teeth, wash my face and get dressed… but that was also when I was under the impression that it was ‘bad’ to care about your appearance. There’s a difference between going out with no make-up and bushy hair when you’re comfortable with it and when you’re not. Putting a little effort into my appearance made me a happier, more confident person, so please don’t bash me!

Skin

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As skincare goes, I don’t have much of a carefully created routine with mine. I’ve not got acne, but I have persistent spots, redness and dark under-eyes, and nothing has seemed to improve things for me so far. I don’t like to spend much money on skincare, and if I’m ever experimental enough to use a face mask or rosewater, it’s usually something cheap I nabbed from T K Maxx.

  • I wash my face with Simply Pure foaming cleanser from Superdrug. They do a couple of other variations of this, but I find this satisfactory. Smells perfectly nice, and I really couldn’t live without the foam pump. Of course, everything from Superdrug is relatively cheap, and, most importantly, cruelty-free, so it’s a no-brainer. This costs about £2.99.
  • I also use the Let The Good Times Roll face & body cleanser from Lush every other day, usually in the shower. Although you can use it on your whole body, I prefer to keep it to my face. It smells absolutely DELICIOUS – fresh popcorn – but, sadly, you can’t give it a nibble like their lip scrubs. Trust me, I ate more of their candyfloss lip scrub than actually scrubbed with it. I honestly don’t personally see any visible effects on my skin with this – I just use it for the smell! It’s £7.25 for a small pot, though, so not cheap.
  • I moisturise with Simply Pure moisturiser, also from Superdrug. I’ve had a few moisturisers react quite badly with my skin, but Superdrug’s sensitive range usually keep it calm. Again, fragrance free and what’s always important is the SPF. This is £2.99.
  • I’ve pretty much given up on battling spots with creams and gels, but I ought to mention my Grease Lightening spot treatment from Lush. Spot creams and gels don’t work for me at all, no matter what the brand – not a single product has made a bit of difference. However, this stuff smells nice, so in desperate times I slap it on in case it just might work this time. It works for some people, apparently. My only issue with it is the pump is a bit awkward… and it was £6.50! If spot treatments don’t usually do the trick for you, I’d recommend you stay away.

Make-Up

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If you’ve ever seen a picture of me/met me, you’ll know I’m no make-up expert. I only started using it when I was fourteen, unless you count the blue eyeshadow and pastel lipsticks I got from My Little Pony magazines when I was little. I’ve watched about three make-up tutorials in my life, and promptly switched them off after I realise I can’t spend over £50 on just primers and powders alone.

  • I use a concealer stick in light from Superdrug to cover up my spots a bit more. I don’t recall the brand, but it’s the cheapest one I can find – £2.99 – and it makes a bit of a difference, so I stick with it. I’ve tried using more pencil-style sticks but they never work for me.
  • For foundation, I’m devoted to Fresh Nude foundation in ‘chelsea porcelain’ from the Body Shop. I used to use Barry M foundation which I also found to be off-colour until I tested my mum’s Fresh Nude bottle and fell in love. It’s light but gives good coverage and gives kind of a dewy finish that makes your face look fresh and glowy, and is actually pale enough for my skin tone! It’s £15, but lasts a good amount of time and is worth it for the quality.
  • For eyes, I use a variation of different palettes, but I tend to stick with the Venus eyeshadow palette from Limecrime. Mine’s a bit battered and the lettering’s all come off, but that’s only because it’s so well-used. Isn’t the design just beautiful? The shades are perfect for me – reds and browns and creams – but this was a earth-shattering £25! (Okay, I bought it from another seller which knocked off £8, but still very expensive!)
  • I’ve never really payed any attention to my eyebrows but I’ve buckled under the pressure and started filling mine in a little with brown eyeshadow and also a kohl brown eye pencil that I have lying around. Any would do the trick. I’ve not really got any idea with what I’m doing with them, though… my eyebrows just look a little less thin.
  • For eyelashes I simply put a bit of Sparkling Black mascara from the Body Shop on. I found this dead cheap in a sale, and it was probably on sale because the glitter isn’t visible at all. Instead, I use this because it doesn’t clog up into thick blobs like other mascaras and just gives my eyelashes a little more definition. Apparently this was £10 (not when I bought it, of course) but I believe it was only sold around last Christmas.
  • I don’t really like using lipstick but when I do, I use Burt’s Bees lip gloss. I believe Burt’s Bees is cruelty-free but not vegan because some products contain beeswax, but I don’t consider myself vegan yet. I have three nice shades that smell lovely and don’t leave any gloopy white film like so many other lip glosses do.

Scent

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I chop and change perfumes all the time, but the bulk of them come from the Body Shop. I am quite fond of buying little tester gift sets from Boots, though!

  • My main perfume is DKNY Be Tempted. This is just a gorgeous, sweet yet musky scent and my favourite DKNY perfume – I was quite disappointed by Be Delicious. It’s perfect for day and evening wear with both femininity and masculinity, and also comes in a beautiful apple-shaped bottle with a snake slithering around the lid.
  • For deodorant, I just use Sure bright boutique which smells perfectly fine and does its job. I also used to use a strawberry Body Shop deodorant, as well as a Superdrug white chocolate and fruit body spray.
  • I also occasionally use White Musk Libertine perfume, Japanese Cherry Blossom perfume and Apple Shimmer body mist from The Body Shop, as well as small Versace perfumes – my favourite being Crystal Noir which smells dark and coconutty.

 

Hair

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I’ve only very, very recently started using any kind of products on my hair, and this is really only because I’ve been trying to grow my fringe out.

  • After straightening my hair I use my trusty Toppik powder (£8.70) which I mentioned in my trich post, which is just a bottle of keratin that I shake onto the thinning areas of my scalp. It’s a bit like peppering myself. It sticks on for at least two days and barely comes away in drizzle or when rubbed against another surface, but it’s a bit of a nightmare when I’ve got an itchy head. Worth it, though.
  • If my hair is oily – and I am burdened with greasy hair – I stick on some Batiste dry shampoo (£2.00) which makes it a lot easier to deal with. It also smells nice, of coconuts!
  • I’ve very recently purchased V05 Give Me Texture tousled style spray, as I’ve been a bit miserable just having my hair lie flat and limp. It’s never really been long enough to do anything with, but a few sprays of this gives my hair more volume and a controlled bedhead look, which I love. It was roughly £4.30.
  • I also ought to mention I use hairspray – just any old firm-hold hairspray – to keep my fringe in place, which I clip up with hair slides in a middle-part like this:

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Veggie North: The Eighth Day Co-Op

 

The Eighth Day is a vegetarian café and food shop on Oxford Road in Manchester, right near Manchester Met University. I’ve always found it a lovely little place to get simple, tasty vegetarian food to eat, as well as to buy for later. The first floor is a shop, but downstairs is a cute restaurant with a cosy decor. There’s usually plenty of space to sit, and it’s always a relaxed environment.

The Café

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My go-to at the Eighth Day is simply brown rice with veg. I’m a bit of a fussy eater, but it honestly makes for a very tasty, filling hot meal. It’s usually just rice with potatoes and cabbage, although the vegetables change each season. They’re all perfectly delicious! The vegetables are quite buttery, which I liked, although I’m not sure if it’s butter or margarine; you’ll have to check. However, when ordering something with bread, you do have the option to ask for margarine. In fact, if you have any dietary requirements, whether you need something gluten or dairy-free, they’ll be happy to provide it for you.

On this particular day, I had my rice and veg whilst my dad had soup with bread, and this only cost a little over £6 – so not only is it healthy food, but it’s cheap, too. There’s always a soup available, along with selections of pies, roasts and salads – the menu changes every day – and there’s also a selection of natural soft drinks, healthy snacks and, of course, a water tap. Although the Eighth Day advertises itself as a vegetarian café, there are also always vegan options.

Being situated close to the university must be a great thing for vegetarian, vegan and simply healthy students alike.

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The Shop

The Eighth Day also has a vegetarian shop above the café where there’s a wide range of meat-free, dairy-free and gluten-free foodstuffs, as well as a range of cruelty-free cosmetics and skincare products. We personally like to get pesto, soba noodles, meat substitutes, wines and soap from the shop, but there’s so many other vegetarian foods to try! Along with the shelf food, there’s also a bakery at the counter selling freshly-baked goods. Most of the prices are affordable and it’s a real saviour when you’re struggling to find more obscure vegetarian/vegan items in places like Holland & Barrett. The staff are also very friendly and often passionate about the food they’re selling!

(Also, they place good music: today it was Mac Demarco and The Smiths!)

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I’d highly recommend this as a great veggie and healthy place to grab a snack or get some shopping done in Manchester.

Five Things to Know Before Starting Sixth Form

Before I started Year 12, I couldn’t stop envisioning myself strutting down a bustling corridor, best outfit on show for all to see, Frappucino in one carefully manicured hand and impeccably detailed notes in the other, meeting up with my large group of multicultural, equally as fashionable friends by my locker, retrieving my car keys, and driving us all down to some hip vegan cafe. Gone were the days of baggy jumpers and straggly ties – now, without a uniform (and legally being able to drive), I could experience an education akin to that of High School Musical.

That’s not exactly how things turned out.

1) You might not make friends immediately

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I was truly convinced I’d have a tight-knit friendship group within my first day. Like some students will, I started college alone – no friends from high school attended my college – and this new leaf was exciting for me. Being partially alone on that first week was quite a shock to my system, which is why I feel it’s important to mention. I actually had three separate sparks of friendship in a row on my first three days, but we never saw each other again afterwards, which I found really disappointing. However, making friends when everyone else is looking for a new group is really easy, and as long as you try and open up a little in classes and clubs, you’ve nothing to worry about. I’m as shy as anything, but I was pleasantly surprised!

2) Your free periods aren’t chat-and-chill sessions

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I know, I know. I thought I knew this too. I kicked off the year feeling motivated. I stayed at college from 9-4 initially and went over my classwork in my two and three-hour free period blocks. I never even considered leaving, though! Quickly, however, I saw free periods as an opportunity to have an early lunch, go on my phone, chat with mates and leave early. Oh, and they’re great for lie-ins. The amount of free time you receive can feel overwhelming at first, but don’t take it for granted. Time passes impossibly quickly, and deadlines creep closer. Get all your homework, essays and assignments out of the way, go over your notes, and revise for your next exam – then you can snake off for lunch at Subway.

3) Your teacher is there for you to talk to

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Teachers might feel a little less accessible than they did in high school. You’ll typically spend less time with them, and lessons tend to be less interactive (and more your teacher droning on for ages). Whilst independent study is important and initiative can score extra marks, there’s no need to be scared of asking teachers for extra support and advice. They’re there to help you, after all. Ask them about any exams, coursework or assignments you’re unsure about, and they’ll be happy to go through any of your essays and homework with you. They’ll probably be up for just a chat, too!

4) Clubs are great social and academic opportunities

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I was terrified of joining clubs… but I joined them anyway! Chances are your sixth form will shove extracurricular opportunities down your throat so it’ll be difficult to avoid, but always make time to check out clubs and societies. Sixth form should start off with a fair for clubs where you can check out all kinds of societies. You should be able to find something you’re interested in, even if it’s not something you considered before. I personally joined a writing club, a song-discussion club and even an archery club, which I’d never done before! Not only are these great for making friends with similar interests, but they’ll also look great on your CV.

5) You need to give yourself time to relax

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…Not whilst you have a list of essays to complete as long as your arm, of course, but once you’ve got everything you need out the way, you can take a well-deserved break. Studying your A-levels can be a stressful time; you’re potentially in a completely new environment with a greater workload and university looming over you. That’s why it’s important to settle down, calm down and not let the stress build up. If you’re feeling too panicked, though, you can always talk to friends and family, and your tutors will always be available for you to talk to – see if your sixth form has a counsellor.

Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is always something I’ve had a really hard time talking about. Mental health is becoming less and less stigmatised by the day, and that’s only because people are willing to discuss it – but it’s never easy. I’ve suffered a lot because of trichotillomania – I’ve been mistreated by friends and family because of it, never mind strangers – and that means opening up about it makes me feel  pretty vulnerable, based on previous experiences. But people need to talk about trichotillomania, because it affects up to 4 in 100 people, and that’s quite a lot.

If you don’t know what trich is, which is entirely likely, it’s an impulse control disorder (although when I first developed it, it was considered a form of OCD) that makes the sufferer pull out their own hair. Now, this can be any hair, such as head, eyebrows, eyelashes, pubic, chest, anything. The person has no control over this action and will often pull out great amounts of hair. I’ve heard some arguments that this isn’t really an impulse control disorder because we “don’t do it in our sleep”, which is, of course, a load of bollocks, and I’m sure not a single trich sufferer would choose to have this disorder. Although it’s closely linked to stress and anxiety, trich isn’t necessarily caused by anything, but there are examples of it being a result of a traumatic event.

I first started to pull my hair out when I was about nine. I started on my eyebrows initially. I can’t put my finger on the day it began or how I was feeling at that moment – all I know is I started and couldn’t stop. When I did try to stop, I was completely overwhelmed with the urge – I even felt physically symptoms, like an intense pain in my chest and sweaty palms. Soon enough, I had no eyebrows whatsoever, so I started pulling out my eyelashes, too. Around this time I had started suffering with anxiety, so you could argue trich may have been a result of this. Whatever the reason, my lack of eyebrows and eyelashes triggered relentless bullying from my peers, and I started pulling even more to cope with the stress. After a single night, a huge chunk of hair was missing from the front of my head, and that only worsened the bullying. At the same time, my parents were struggling to understand and deal with the situation, and were initially quite unsupportive – most likely in attempt to deflect the pulling in case I was just doing it for “attention”. In fact, we were watching a TV show in which an ‘expert’ gives advice to parents about troublesome  children, and told a mother and father whose daughter was pulling out her hair that she was doing it for attention and if you ignored it, she’d stop. That felt like a kick in the gut.

It really took over my life. I’d been a very normal, moderately popular girl and suddenly I was alone and felt hideously ugly. The first years of high school is when a girl’s appearance really comes into play, and I was walking around with numerous bald patches. People would stare at me on the street, relatives and family friends would whisper about me, kids at school would yell stuff at me. I rarely went a day without receiving some kind of insult from a total stranger: “You look like you have cancer,” “Are you going bald?” “Did you know you have bald patches?” “Went too far with the razor?” “Nice haircut!” “Baldie!” and, inexplicably, the word “Cancer!” just thrown at me down hallways. I didn’t have a single shred of confidence. I was not pretty and I would never be pretty because I would never stop pulling. In my first year, I cut off all my hair into a pixie cut in the hopes it would make the pulling less obvious, but the insults only increased.

My parents quickly came to my support, but nothing helped. I attended counselling, but it didn’t make a single bit of difference to my pulling. I went to a trich support group, but it just made me feel more hopeless. In online forums, people spoke of their success stories with combating trich, but nothing worked for me in the slightest. The only thing that made me feel a little less alone was the YouTube channel beckie0 (Rebecca Brown), a teenager (at the time) who also suffered with trichotillomania – and suddenly there was this whole community of young people struggling like me. Maybe I’d never meet anyone who just ‘happened’ to have trich, but it helped me to know there were people out there who faced the same struggles as I faced.

Today, I am pulling less and less, which I believe is a result of my increasing confidence. I have gone weeks without pulling and always ended up breaking, but in comparison to the times when I could barely go ten minutes without pulling, that’s quite a significant breakthrough. And after I post this, I am vowing to stop pulling for good – no second chances or hiccups or one-offs. I’d like to update my progress as I go on. I stopped pulling for over a month previously, and I think I can do it again. I don’t face bullying anymore, either, as my balding isn’t visible (although it’s a lot less visible than before anyway) as I cover it with a powder called Toppik. This isn’t a plug but it is something that has genuinely improved my quality of life. I can leave the house without expecting people to stare at my hair, and it feels wonderful; it’s totally liberating. It’s basically hair fibres you shake onto your scalp, and voila, a full head of hair!

I think so many young – and old – people suffering with trichotillomania would truly benefit from it being represented in the media and entertainment. I’ve only ever seen trichotillomania represented in the TV show Nurse Jackie, in which a child begins pulling out her hair but fully recovers in an incredibly short amount of time, and also, I guess, in the novel Sharp Objects, in which a controlling and manipulative mother has a “nervous habit” of pulling out her eyelashes. Neither of these have had any positive influence on me. I’d love to see a book, or a TV show, or a movie, or something, in which a character deals with trich, and it’s ugly and it’s hard and they’re stigmatised and bullied and go through all the suffering I went through, but show that we are not alone with this disorder.

Uni – Should I Stay or Should I Go?

I have just returned from an open day at the University of Salford and have suddenly been struck by the realisation that uni isn’t actually that far away. It’s over a year away – I’d be starting September 2018 – but this first year at college has gone so fast that I’m a little overwhelmed. It’s honestly gone in the blink of an eye. University was unthinkable back in Year Seven, but then again, so were GCSEs. And I’ve already sat an AS level.

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve had my heart set on living on campus. I would have never even considered this when I was in Year Eleven, but I’ve become more and more accustomed to the idea. I’m the opposite of an independent person, unfortunately, but I’m currently trying to change that. Uni seems like the perfect opportunity for a fresh start and to ultimately make me a more independent and confident person. Everyone will be in the same boat, separated from maybe lifelong friends for the first time and living away from home. Living on campus would immediately force adulthood on me – cooking, cleaning, shopping, making my own appointments and phone calls (I’m not the only person who still struggles with that, right?), and it’s being forced into situations that truly helps me. I find it all too easy to shy away from responsibility and conflict and settle in my comfort zone. I won’t be able to do this forever, and I believe university will be the perfect shock to my system.

It’s not like I need to live on campus. All of the universities I’m thinking of are close enough for me to make a reasonable commute – Lancaster, Bangor, Chester, and, of course, Salford – and this was a conscious decision. I don’t want to move in to East Anglia and suddenly realise I’m not cut out for living on my own, because that’ll be a bit messy. But I really want to get away from my town. Now, I can talk and have talked about how much I loathe my hometown for pages and pages, but let’s just say I feel stunted here. I feel like there are no opportunities. It’s a place void of hope. It’s home, but I don’t feel any attachment to it. I can’t wait to leave. Now, my mother often helpfully reminds me that there’s misery in every part of the country and if I want somewhere nice I’ll have to pay a lot for it, but that doesn’t deter me. I am determined to get away. Uni might be this first step.

It is costly, however. I’ve never had a job, and we’re not particularly wealthy. I’d like to think I’d get a job once I start uni, but that’s something I’m pretty anxious about. More than that, though, is that at this moment in time I am simply not ready for living on my own at uni. I could not do it in my position as of now. I lack a novel’s worth of skills and experience to handle it, although I have made significant progress over the past year. And look, I love my family, I love being around my family, I love being comfortable. I like the idea of change, but often struggle with it when it actually comes into effect.

That’s why I’ll really be making it my mission to develop the skills and confidence necessary for this over the rest of the year and the next. I’ve already had a go at it, but I have a lot of work to do. I truly believe if I push myself, however, I’ll be ready. Even if things don’t work out and I end up wanting/having to stay at home, at least I’ll still be a more confident person.

The Vegetarian Stereotype

“Oh, God, don’t be one of those vegetarians.”

The vegetarian I’m being right now. God forbid, I’m talking about my diet!

My parents were vegetarians, so, naturally, they raised me on a vegetarian diet. My mum got an earful about this before she even gave birth; didn’t she know she was putting me at risk by having a meat and fish-free diet during her pregnancy? Didn’t she know the nutrients gained from meat and fish were essential for my health? My mum had a fantastic diet and exercised a lot during her pregnancy, and, voila, I popped out healthy and almost muscular. I wasn’t in the slightest weaker than other babies. And nor did I develop some kind of animal instinct for meat, since many people believe we’re supposed to be eating meat. I liked my meat-free diet. When I was old enough, my parents sat me down, explained vegetarianism, and told me I was allowed to eat meat if I so wished, but they wouldn’t cook it. Of course I didn’t want to!

Once, in nursery, a trainee staff member was handing out sandwiches at lunch. They were ham.

“I don’t eat meat,” I told her.

She laughed and told her colleague I wasn’t eating my sandwich. Her colleague told her to just give me it and I’d stop being so fussy. So the trainee put the ham sandwich on my plate, and I sat through lunch with nothing to eat. When it was time to play again, she scolded me for not eating my food. What a fussy little girl I was. Why wouldn’t I eat meat like everyone else in the room?

At primary school, it wasn’t long before other kids noticed I didn’t eat meat. I was the only vegetarian in my year group, so I ended up getting my own personal Quorn sausage roll at lunchtime. I’d refuse sweets that I knew had gelatine in them – this made me an ultra-freak.

“Why can’t you eat meat? Are you allergic?” a boy asked at lunch.

“No, I’m vegetarian.”

“Why are you eating chocolate, then?”

“It doesn’t have any meat in it.”

“Doesn’t it have milk in it?”

“I drink milk!”

(I don’t anymore.)

One lunchtime, I was eating my dinners at a table when a boy flung a piece of ham into my sandwich. I couldn’t eat it. They found it hilarious; it became their new game. They would try and slip pieces of fish into my meals or throw meat into my lunchbox and my bag and my hair. Another lunchtime, they threw slices of ham into a bin and tried to force my head inside so I’d eat it.

I almost had a discussion once – my friend was asking me about vegetarianism in ICT and I pulled up a video of animal slaughter to show them my reasons. The teacher promptly shut my computer off and said I wasn’t to click on such things again. Another time, my friend was asking what his sausages were made of. I said they were made of pigs. He didn’t understand how that could be. I said they killed the pigs and ground them up to make the sausage – then his mother swooped in and told me not to tell such horrid stories. Rather than telling their children what went into their food, parents and teachers were trying to protect them from the truth. To children, chicken burgers are and have always been in a box, never a farm.

In high school there were maybe two other vegetarians in my year group, and people were typically less judgemental. But it didn’t go away. Once, I took a brownie a classmate made for the class but after learning it had marshmallows in it I gave it back – I explained marshmallows were made from gelatine, and I was a vegetarian. Just so I didn’t hurt her feelings. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to eat it, it was that I couldn’t. And then:

“You always known when there’s a vegetarian in the room,” muttered a boy at the back.

Never once have I watched someone eat a beef burger and then start preaching like a Jehovah’s Witness. If someone wants to discuss vegetarianism with me, I’ll discuss it. Yet vegetarians are still treated like criminals. I do wonder if it’s insecurity these people who say, “Vegetarians were the villagers who couldn’t hunt” etc feel, or even guilt. Do you want my opinion? I assume so as you’re reading this – they should feel guilty. It’s reasonable to feel guilty. But I don’t go around telling people this.

Vegetarianism is something I’m passionate about, though. I still make general posts about sparing chickens and turkeys around Christmas times. I still repost vegetarian recipes and diet plans around January to inspire people to make a change. But I certainly don’t attack anyone. It wouldn’t work, anyway. Telling people eating meat is bad always receives the response, “I’m going to eat a hamburger because you said that,” or, “But bacon!”. I can appreciate this – telling anyone what to do often makes them want to do the opposite – but what I don’t appreciate is unwarranted abuse.

In my hometown, the community is quite narrow-minded. Right-wing, Leave voters, yada yada. Also, we are well known for pies, and these often contain meat. A group of vegan activists stood in the town centre with a few stalls offering information about veganism and a sign that said, “Ask about veganism today!”. That was it. They didn’t approach anyone. They didn’t say, “Go vegan now or we’ll gut you!”. They offered a discussion. Naturally, on the local newspaper comment section, the locals screamed bloody murder – vegans were coming here to radicalise us, to shove their ideas down our throats! I love my bacon and black pudding! It was absolutely ludicrous.

I can talk about vegetarianism all day. I’ll make a post soon explaining my reasons. But I’m not telling anyone what to do. If you truly believe someone expressing an opinion is trying to control you, you have a lot of insecurities to work through. A lifestyle shouldn’t be a threat. I can empathise with meat eaters. I don’t think they’re all murderers and idiots. But saying vegans and vegetarians never shut up about their diets is the norm.

Book Cycle

Every Sunday lunchtime I take a ten minute walk through the neighbourhood to get to Book Cycle, where I volunteer for a couple of hours. It’s a local bookshop, but nothing like Waterstones. The clue’s in the name!

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I refer to Book Cycle as a bookshop but, strictly speaking, it isn’t. Let me explain:

  • The books inside Book Cycle have been donated to us. Either from locals, schools or even the BBC, all of these books are given to us and my job as a volunteer is to put them on the shelves. If they’re not in good condition, we send them off to be recycled.
  • ‘Customers’ can take three books a day, and they essentially decide the price. Technically, it’s a donation – some people pay us 20p, some £5, and some don’t have any money at all.
  • Certain children’s books and information books are packed and sent off to schools in Africa – Book Cycle is a charity, too!

Any book-lover would be delighted at the sound of this. Before I was a volunteer, I was a ‘customer’, and visiting Book Cycle has always been a treat. The shelves are constantly restocked and cycled and I’ve found some great books there – A Little Life, A Tale For The Time Being, Slaughterhouse 5, Farewell to Arms, and even some rare poetry collections – and, of course, no book goes to waste.

I won’t lie – I’m definitely not a fan of Kindles. To be honest, I’m anti-ebooks altogether. To me, a book should be an object, something you can hold and flick and smell and just feel. A file on a mobile device? That’s not a book, that’s text. We often receive donations in great bulks, as if people are clearing out their shelves and lofts and finally storing their library on a tablet. Half of the people who enter Book Cycle see it as a dumping ground; the other half, paradise.

Book Cycle originally began locally with just a couple of shops but it is now beginning to spread worldwide. Its founder was inspired to create these bookshops after they found a load of old books tossed away in a skip. Most of the shops are old, unused libraries and the like that volunteers restore in their own efforts. Donating books to charity shops is fine until you have three boxes worth – the people are likely to shove them in the tip. But at Book Cycle, all books are put to good use, and don’t just benefit the local community but also the schools in Africa.

I think Book Cycles would be beneficial all across the world. If you love books and hate seeing them tossed away and unloved, creating your own Book Cycle could do your community wonders. Our volunteers are all dedicated and diligent and we also put on events to raise money – not a single Book Cycle member is paid. A bookshop where you choose the price? I can’t think of anything better.