How To Train Your Dragon is back!

On 7 June, DreamWorks released the first trailer for the third installment of the animated hit fantasy series, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

DR3_Tsr1Sheet_HiddenWorld_RGB_2SMIt’s been nine years since the first How To Train Your Dragon film flew into cinemas across the world. Two films have followed the adventures of young viking, Hiccup, and his unique dragon Toothless, as they protect the Isle of Berk and it’s people from multiple threats and it looks like it will be no different in the third and final film… well, except for Hiccup’s beard.

In 2014, I was lucky enough to be selected to travel to Norway to celebrate the release of HTTYD 2 for National Geographic Kids magazine. It was the most amazing experience, especially having not been to the country before.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the head of character animation, Simon Otto, in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, took part in a spot of dragon racing (thankfully whilst firmly on the ground) and even gave indoor skydiving a go to … all of which were caught on camera and published on the NG Kids YouTube channel!

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is due in cinemas next spring.

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Nature: Exploring my forte

My writing career began at one of the most famous wildlife and nature titles in the world… National Geographic Kids. Now, among other pages, I’m the sole writer of the Animals and the Environment page for The Week Junior and have never been happier to provide content on such a wonderful topic that is so close to my heart.

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Every week, I research and pitch stories suitable for the Animals and the Environment section of the magazine, but since we are limited to the number of stories we can feature, many amazing tales go untold. So each week, I’m planning on sharing my favourite wildlife story to spread awareness and, overall, joy when it comes to the wonderful world of nature.

29/31 Enter the cave of wonders…

29. Where have you travelled?

That’s a bit of an open-ended question… is that travelled today, this year or travelled in my lifetime? We’d be here for a while if I opted for the latter that’s for sure…

So instead I’ll write about the last press trip I went on before I left NG Kids last year. I was sent to Slovenia in October to check out Postojna Cave and the mysterious olm that live there.

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Postojna Cave was discovered in 1818 by a local caver, called Luka ČeČ. This vast underground kingdom boasts extraordinary natural sculptures that sprout from more or less every surface. It’s so huge that you have to take a train to get into the main part of the cave! The stalactites and stalagmites here begun forming as far as two million years ago, by the water seeping through from the Pivka River. An easy way of remembering which formation was a stalactite and which was a stalagmite, was all thanks to one letter. Stalactites hang from the ceiling and stalagmites form on the ground. Clever right?!

Then there’s this little guy, which are thought to live up to 100 years old! Nicknamed the human fish, it was once thought that they were the offspring of dragons. These cave-dwelling salamander have adapted to life in the darkness in the most peculiar of ways. Although born with eyes, they soon stop developing. By the time they are four months old, skin begins to grow over them. They are still sensitive to light though, which is why it’s so tricky to get a decent picture of them. To combat the loss of vision, their hearing and sense of smell is highly developed. They’ve even got electroreceptors in their heads to help them hunt for food!

Talking about food… that’s one thing I did thoroughly enjoy – even though we were given way too much of it! Each day we were given a four course meal for both lunch and dinner, and each course came with a different wine. Needless to say, I was severely ill the second day of the trip because my body just wasn’t used to that much food – I felt I had to clear the plate each time otherwise I was given a disapproving look and asked if I didn’t like it. No pressure! However, here are some of my favourite dishes… I can’t remember exactly what was in each of them now but I just remember how amazing they tasted – especially the desserts!

On the trip, we also took part in extreme caving, visited Predjama Castle and even was given a tour of the caves underneath the castle, where there were loads of bats!

 

 

My comeback

So a lot has happened over the last twelve months….

  • I moved into a flat in central London with people I’d never met before;
  • I left National Geographic Kids after being headhunted to work on a new children’s magazine;
  • I began exploring life and all that it has to offer…

Moving anywhere can be stressful – but trying to find a place in London that isn’t going to leave you penniless is a different kettle of fish entirely. That said, even though it may have taken me a while, I finally found a three bed flat in the heart of London, near Angel, that I have fallen in love with. I feel like I’ve found friends for life with my flatmates, which is so lucky, as moving in with people I hadn’t known before could have turned out very differently.

Not long after moving in, I was headhunted for a new children’s magazine that had not even published it’s first issue. Yet again I was faced with another risky decision. Did I stay in a job that I could do with my hands tied behind my back or did I take a leap of faith and jump straight into an unknown magazine in the hope that it would be a success (and that becoming an official Staff Writer was something I could succeed in too)? I took the latter option and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The Week Junior launched in November and has been going from strength to strength ever since, becoming Britain’s fastest growing children’s magazine. I’m so proud to be part of such an amazing team at Dennis Publications and couldn’t imagine myself working anywhere else.

I’ve also come to realise over the past year that you don’t have to live your life in a box… or worry about ticking anyone else’s boxes for that matter. People are entitled to be who ever they want to be and shouldn’t have to answer to anyone for it. Unfortunately, there will still be times where someone doesn’t agree, or doesn’t think that your decision is a wise one… but you know what, it’s my decision to make and if it doesn’t turn out well, then that’s my mistake and is something I will learn from. After all, that’s how people grow, by making their own mistakes. It’s just not possible to learn from someone else’s. Plus if you find out that someone doesn’t like you for one reason or another, then quite frankly that’s their problem. As RuPaul says in her song, Sissy That Walk… “Unless they paying your bills, pay them b*tches no mind.”

Woah… that got deep for a second. Back to business…

Since a new month is now on the horizon, I wanted to begin regularly blogging again and not just posting sporadic reviews. So, to help get me back into the swing of things, I’ve decided to take up the below 31 Day Blog Challenge. In 2014, I took part in the 365 Days of Writing Prompts challenge from WordPress and absolutely loved it. It was also so nice to see how fellow bloggers had approached each prompt, so if you’re completing a similar challenge this May, let me know as I’d love to check it out.

So until the next time, enjoy life and keep living the dream!

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Out of your reach

#343: Was there a toy or thing you always wanted as a child, during the holidays or on your birthday, but never received? Tell us about it.

This sounds very similar to my Bittersweet memories post from back in May, where I went back quite a few years to discuss the Super Sticker Factory and Mr. Frosty I never received as a child (bad times!). I can’t actually think of anything else I desperately (at that age) wanted aside from those two – I do remember, however, having a Furby (now I can see the error of my ways), a Doodle Bear (which I don’t think I actually doodled on!), a Baby All Gone (I was surprised every time she ate the cherries!) and of course, who didn’t have a Tamagotchi of some kind as a kid?! I had a dalmatian one which lived for years, forever waking me up in the middle of the night as it was hungry… pesky thing!

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Image: imremembering.com 

The excitement never ends

#251: Tell us about the last thing you got excited about — butterflies-in-the-stomach, giggling, can’t-wait excited.

Easy… being able to help out on the new NG KiDS app last week, which is currently in the making. App magazines (and apps in general) have always fascinated me and even though only one member of the team was professionally trained in creating this app, I’ve still been asked to get involved by sourcing appropriate sounds and content to be used in the first issue. I’m hoping that as the issues progress, I’ll be asked to do more and more with it, as I LOVE learning new things!

… but shhh don’t tell anyone! 

Standout

#228: When was the last time you really stood out in a crowd? Are you comfortable in that position, or do you wish you could fade into the woodwork?

Yesterday.

Whilst AnimalMan, Nick Spellman, was getting reading for his last show of the day in our NG KiDS tent at LolliBop festival, he put on Frozen’s famous track, Let It Go, and asked the kids to sing along. Unbeknownst to me, I was gleefully (unconsciously) singing along, too. No problem right? Wrong. I was standing on my lonesome in front of our banner/stand to the right of the stage for all the kids to see. That’s when I noticed a boy turn to his mum, point in my direction and say “she knows all the words”. Argh! That when I saw all of the tiny eyes on me… Although, instead of glowing bright red or turning to run and hide, I simply gestured that they sing louder and really get involved. I think that deflected some of the attention, as I’m really not a centre stage thriving individual in the slightest.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall…

#226: Think of your blog as a mirror: what does it reveal? Consider your blog name, theme choice, design, bio, posts… what does every element tell you about yourself?

I wish I could spend longer on today’s prompt, but I’ve been setting up the NG KiDS tent at this years LolliBop festival all day and I’m absolutely exhausted!

So, in short, I think that my blog reveals that I am a very thorough and hard working individual, who has many feathers to my cap (the modern sense of the phrase of course – I haven’t been slaying any enemies recently) and who has enjoyed every element of the blogging challenge I began at the start of the year. I still can’t believe that we’re in our eighth month already, with only *let me do the math* 139 days to go until it’s 2015 and I have to decide on another challenge! How time flies!

Ballerina, fireman, astronaut, moviestar

#217: When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up? What are you now? Are the two connected?

Not that I can remember my dreams and plans 15 years ago at all vividly, but I think at that age I had just gone abroad for the first time to Disney World Florida. Whilst out there, we went to Discovery Cove – when I was younger, as in 4-years-old younger, I wanted to be a Mermaid (what kid doesn’t?!), which I think fuelled my fascination in the creatures found under the sea. So be taken to swim with the dolphins… I was in heaven! It was one of the best days of my life. It was from there that I wanted to work with dolphins – either as a dolphin trainer, marine biologist or a dolphin rescuer. 

15 years on… I’m the Editorial & Marketing Assistant at NG Kids magazine UK. The two aren’t directly connected, but we have our ocean special currently on sale where we mention dolphins… so there’s a very minute link. Not that I was asked to write the dolphin pages – I wrote a double page spread called Shore Shapers instead, which was about the little creatures found along the UK’s coast line.

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Image: www.czs.org

It’s that time again…

I read today’s blog post a couple of hours ago and still can’t think of what to write. I’m sure I’m jealous of the same things many others are… people who have proper paying jobs, being able to afford to live independently (even in a flat share – I’m not fussy!), having the motivation to stick to regular gym sessions etc etc. But then I thought, everyone’s life has its positives too – I’ve got a loving family and a bed to sleep in at night. 

So instead, since I haven’t done this in a while, it’s time to rebel! I’m going to share five fascinating facts about animals that have adapted to suit their environment…

– Camels have the ability to drink up to 145 litres in one go!

– As everyone knows, owls have an excellent range of motion for their heads. But, supposedly, this is because their eyes are too big to move from side to side or up and down!

– Most vultures have bald heads so that eating dead animals is less messy!

– A scorpion can’t sting itself; it’s immune to its own venom!

– Hippos don’t sweat but instead secretive a red fluid from their skin that keeps the animals moist and shields the suns rays!

Facts courtesy of National Geographic Kids’ 5,000 Awesome Facts [About Everything!]