Daily life

2014 in Review – A BIG Thank You!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

I just want to say a very BIG Thank You to everyone who has visited, enjoyed and has gained something from my blog this year. You’ve all been great! 🙂
I hope you all have an awesome New Year filled with love, happiness and hope.

In sha’ Allah, I will be back in 2015 with more fresher content, which I’m sure everyone will be able to benefit from.
See ya then!

Until then…

Najmah

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Daily life, Festive, Religion

It’s Halloween…

Hey hey! 🙂

Halloween is just around the corner now and many of you will have planned parties or have been invited out by friends to celebrate – by dressing up in different/odd/strange costumes imaginable, to party till late or even trick-or-treating; but as I’m a Muslim, I don’t celebrate it. So I’ll be settling down to watch one of many movies. Sounds boring, you’re probably thinking, but it is not at all boring because I absolutely LOVE watching horror movies! This has become a tradition for me of some sorts.

Even though I don’t celebrate it, I decided to blog and share with you guys these five halloween movies which I have watched and enjoyed.


 Halloween  (1978)

Halloween_cover


The Shining
The Shining


Ringu (Japanese Version)


World War Z


Sleepy Hollow


If you are celebrating Halloween completely different this year than the norm, I would love to know so do leave a comment.

And if you do decide to watch any of these movies from above, or if you have seen them already; let me know what you thought about them.

Until next time…

Najmah

Daily life, Quote of the day

Quote of the Day

Hey hey!

Here was the situation this morning; I woke up to find it pouring down with rain (what else can be expected from the British weather!) The first thought I had was I don’t want to get up I would rather stay here in my warm bed; it’s going to be a horrible day. I’m sure many of you have felt like this at some point in your lives – whether going to school or to work.

So I had a dentist appointment today and I hate, absolutely HATE going to the dentists, I have a serious bout of dental phobia. I was going to make up an excuse and reschedule it for another day. But then I realised, why was I making the weather an obstacle for myself. It wasn’t going harm me, just get me a little wet which an umbrella could sort out; so I went and I hated it but the important point is that I didn’t make any changes to my plans and got everything done.

Would you let an opportunity slip by? Lets say you had an interview, which could either make or break your career, would you give it a miss just because it was raining?

I wouldn’t!

Until next time…

Najmah

Interview, Profile

Interview: Catherine Hancock – Freelance Multimedia Reporter at Worksop Guardian Newspaper

Catherine Hancock

Going from working part-time at Costa Coffee to finally getting her dream job in journalism. Catherine Hancock reveals all how she became to be the Freelance Multimedia Reporter at the Worksop Guardian Newspaper and emphasises the importance of having a blog.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background. 

I’m 23-years-old and I’ve lived in Nottingham all my life.

I have always wanted to write in one way or another. I think it runs in the family because my dad is a writer!

As a child I never really had any confidence in my ability at school. For example I had to take my maths GCSE a whole FIVE times!

Maths wasn’t for me, but I always did well in English. Despite this, after school I decided to go onto college and study English Language, Geography and Media.

At the time, I kind of tried to push the idea of Uni to the back of my head, because I knew I wanted to go, but I wasn’t sure I would get the grades I needed to get in. I applied to go to Uni anyway and I went to the University of Chester to study a journalism degree.

They were truly the best three years of my life. I did work experience at the Liverpool Echo and Chester Chronicle whilst I was there.

When I graduated, I moved back home and thought it wouldn’t be too long to find a journalism job.

I was wrong. The first problem was that my degree wasn’t accredited by the NCTJ so, I decided to teach them myself from home because it was the cheapest option.

Then I was told I wasn’t experienced enough, so I spent over a year doing various free work for companies such as the Nottingham Post, Leicester Mercury, Wannabe Hacks, Journograds and the Newark Advertiser.

I did all this whilst working part-time at Costa Coffee and studying.

I eventually got to my dream job though.

What one word would you use to describe yourself?

Driven (I was going to say determined but I think that can sound a bit aggressive sometimes).

How did you keep yourself motivated, when you were faced with rejections?

I have always wanted to be a journalist so there was no chance of me ever giving up because there is nothing else I want to do.

I’m a Taurus so can be quite stubborn sometimes!

After job rejections I would always get feedback on the interviews which helped a lot.

I carried on writing and kept getting work published, which gave me the confidence that I could write and everything is about timing.

If you’re not ready then it won’t happen.

Tell us about your current job? 

I’m a full time freelance multimedia reporter at a weekly newspaper called the Worksop Guardian, which is owned by Johnston Press.

I write all kinds of stories from charity events, court stories to council stories.

I don’t just write stories though, I have to make videos, update the website frequently, update the social media sites and occasionally have to do the odd review!

What do you like most about your job?, What do you like least?

There is a lot I love about my job and I could go on forever, but I won’t!

I love going out and meeting all different types of people.

It’s just the best feeling in the world, talking to people who you wouldn’t perhaps get the chance to talk to in everyday life.

There is also no better feeling than seeing the end product when the newspaper comes out and seeing your name in print, I’m not sure that feeling will get old anytime soon.

Oh and the occasional freebie too – I’m off on a press trip to Poland in a couple of weeks time!

I least like the fact that I’m freelance. Even though I work full time like everyone else, you don’t get the same benefits or security as the fully employed people.

Unfortunately more and more reporters are being employed as freelance these days because it tends to be cheaper – but I’m just so pleased I have a job.

What has been the happiest day of your life?

The happiest day of my life was graduating.

I graduated in Chester Cathedral on Halloween and it was incredible.

It was so nice to celebrate everyone’s achievements together with their family and friends.

I never thought I would graduate or get a degree, so it was an emotional day and one that I will never forget.

What do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years?

Naive me would say in five years time I would love to be working at a national, but I think that is probably more of a ten year dream.

The next best thing would be working at a daily newspaper in a big city like Manchester (I’m not sure I could ever afford London).

What would you advise someone who is wanting to embark on becoming a journalist?

First an foremost get two of the most important things you need to be a journalist – the NCTJs and a driving licence.

If you look at job descriptions for trainee journalists it is so rare for companies not to mention that candidates should have their NCTJs.

If it isn’t on the job description they will more than likely bring it up in the interview.

The NCTJ exams show that you can write a court story that is legally safe, you understand how the government and local councils work and that you can write news stories up to the standard of a journalist.

Driving speaks for itself. As a journalist you need to be able to get out of the office at the drop of a hat.

If you have both of these things and a bit of experience, then I don’t see why someone can’t at least get a job interview.

Get as much work experience as you can. Do it once a week at the same newspaper, if you can.

This way you familiarise yourself with the team, get the chance to build up great contacts and you will get to hear of any vacancies that may arise in the company before everyone else.

I think weeklies are a good training ground because the teams are smaller and there is less chance of you being forgotten about.

During your work experience make sure you have a good at everything and not just writing for the newspaper.

Have a go at making a video, updating the website and social media sites.

Also get a blog! I cannot stress enough how important having a blog is for someone who wants a career in journalism.

I didn’t have a blog until about a year ago, I thought they were a bit pointless.

This changed when I went for an interview at the Nottingham Post and the editor told me I needed to get a blog and update it regularly, because that is what my competition was doing.

I took his advice and have never looked back since.

It has given me a lot of different opportunities. So PLEASE get a blog!

Catherine Hancock is a writer, blogger and a journalist. You can follow her on Twitter @catherineha1991 and Instagram @catherinehancock91. Her blog can be found on catherinescolumn.com.

Daily life, Quote of the day

Quote of the Day: Friendship

Hey hey!

It will be a quick post about friendship today. I’ve just had a lovely dinner out with my friends from work tonight and it just made me think about how important my friends are to me. I’m sure you all would agree; without any friends, life would become quite lonely really, a very boring place.

Here are some of my favourite quotes about friendship, I’d like to share!

A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.
― Elbert Hubbard

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’
― C.S. Lewis

If you have good friends, no matter how much life is sucking , they can make you laugh.
― P.C. Cast

So ask yourself, how important are your friends to you?

Najmah

Book Reviews, Reviews

Book Review: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

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I used to be able to finish one to two books a day. Nowadays due to work and other responsibilities I’m not able to read as much as I would love to. So when I saw this book at the library, I just picked it up thinking it would be something different to what I usually go for. I had no idea who the author was, I just skimmed through the blurb and contemplated whether I really would be able to get into a typical dry love story like this.

The blurb went like this: ‘When the Countess Ellen Olenska returns from Europe, fleeing her brutish husband, her rebellious independence and passionate awareness of life stir the educated sensitivity of Newland Archer, already engaged to be married to the Countess’s cousin May Welland, “that terrifying product of the social system he belonged to and believed in, the young girl who knew nothing and expected everything.” As the drama unfolds, Edith Wharton’s sharp ironic wit and Jamesian mastery of form create a disturbingly accurate picture of men and women caught in a society that denies humanity while desperately defending “civilisation”.’

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton is not your typical love triangle, so you will not enjoy it if you’re expecting a cute, happy story. I was pleasantly surprised and right from the onset I became engrossed, I just couldn’t put the book down.


Based in upper-class New York City in the 1870s, in a society where people “dreaded scandal more than disease.” In ways still relevant and relatable today. Before I go on, I have to mention that reading about New York City reminded me of Gossip Girl, it used to be my favourite show and this book was actually mentioned in the show. Back to the story, we are introduced into Newland Archer’s world, who is seemingly happily engaged to the traditional May Welland. But his world soon turns upside down, when the mysterious Countess Ellen Olenska (who is also May’s cousin) returns back to New York from Europe, after a unhappy marriage. Ellen is complete opposite to May; unconventional and emotional and Archer falls deeply in love with her. Yearning for the freedom to be with her makes him question the society they live in. Ultimately Archer has to make a decision that will fulfil his life or destroy it.


I have to applaud Wharton’s writing; she has perfectly portrayed Archer’s inner turmoil and struggles between his desire to be with Countess Ellen Olenska, which he can only dream of and his duty towards his wife. I actually began to empathise with his character, in some parts actively hoping/wishing he would leave May and go to Ellen. It made me think about the society we live in, where if there was someone stuck in the same position as Archer today; I don’t think he/she would think twice or make the sacrifice at all – he/she would leave the person and be with the one they love. I guess times have changed a lot!


During the course of reading the book, I discovered there was a film adaptation of the book made in 1993, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder. I don’t know why I didn’t just google it at the beginning but good thing I didn’t, it is always best to read the book first. So I still need to watch it, which should be great!


This book had pretty much taken over my life for the last month, so finding another book just as good as this will not be easy. Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Age of Innocence, Wharton’s writing kept me gripped and interested all the way through. I would recommend anyone to give it a try and you’ll be surprised like I was.

Interview, Profile

Interview: Natasha Asghar – Writer, Presenter, Radio DJ

Natasha Asghar


Natasha Asghar
is a writer, radio Dj and presenter. Graduating with a Master’s degree in Politics, she got a taste of media by chance, and has not looked back since. She offers her pearls of wisdom on getting into the media industry.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background.

I’m an only child of an accountant/politician and a doctor. I was born in Newport, South Wales and studied there until I completed my A-levels. After school I moved to University in London. Whilst at University, most of my friends were working in the student union or doing temp work to make extra cash as a weekend job. I began hosting a show on a channel called Vectone. After nine months I began studying for my master’s degree, so I could not continue with researching, presenting and doing all of the running around for the show by myself and fulfilling the course requirements.

After completing my Masters in Contemporary British Politics and Media, I took up a job as a banker. But I missed the media buzz, so I started doing little bits here and there on the weekends.

I then left the job at the bank and decided to give media my all. It was at this point I started working for Buzz Asia, Asian Woman Magazine as their Agony Aunt and also B4U Music. I won’t lie, there was a lot of struggle and difficulty as there was not much stability, so I chopped and changed jobs from 2012-13; moved and travelled a lot for work, then out of the blue, I went for an audition at ZEE TV.

The rest is history.

You made a huge change moving from politics into media, do you have any plans going back to politics?

My father (Mohammad Asghar) is still in politics (as the Conservative Regional Assembly Member for South Wales East). I have and always will stand by him, in each and every way I possibly can. I do have a keen interest in politics and with the role I do choose to remain impartial to all political parties.

As for my political ambitions; right now I love my job and have not thought of doing anything along those lines.

But as for the future, who knows? Never say never right?

How difficult was it to present, produce and research your own radio show?

I had never worked in radio, until Buzz Asia and although I knew how to present, I had no idea about the technical side of it?

Admittedly I was very fortunate to have a wonderful station Manager ‘Raj King’ who was really supportive and my fellow presenters Zee Khan and Doni Brasco both very patiently trained me on the technical side of radio.

I quite enjoyed the freedom to talk about things and was able to help countless people through the show with issues they were going through. Although I was getting inundated with emails from listeners for help, it was hard to juggle that with other jobs, but time management is one of my strong points. Plus I really loved radio, so I made time to juggle my other responsibilities too.

There is not a doubt in my mind, radio is a fantastic medium, which I had never really considered before I became a part of it. However when I became more involved, I honestly never looked back and it will always have a very special place in my heart.

What do you like most about your job?, What do you like least?

I love the variety of each day; every single day is different. One day, we may have a top Bollywood celebrity, then a self made billionaire followed by a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) representative talking about a really important health issue. Plus I love everyone at Zee, they are such a friendly bunch of people, the least favourite part of my day is when we have to go home! (As sad as that may sound!)

What has been the happiest day of your life?

There are a few but I would say the most recently was when I hosted the ZEE Bollywood Rockstars concert, at Wembley Arena. It was in front of 6,000 people and my parents were sat in the 3rd row. Their facial expressions were priceless.

What do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years?

World domination – You can interpret that however you like!

What one word would you use to describe yourself?

Blessed

What would you advise someone who is wondering whether or not to go into media? Say there own radio show?

I will never glamourise the media industry to anyone. I have had a mighty struggle over the years and some of my nearest and dearest can vouch for the times I used to get highly emotional out of sheer frustration. There is a dark side and a wonderful side and I’ve been incredibly privileged to have met some people along my journey who have supported me and stood by me, when I was totally new in the industry and we are still firm friends even now.

For anyone who wishes to get into media, here are some of my pearls of wisdom,

  1. Don’t expect to become Neeve, Bobby Friction, Nihal overnight. It takes time, practice, patience and effort.
  2. Be prepared to WORK from the ground up. I see so many people wanting to get into the media industry, thinking they are already born stars and should be given what they want. It is a SLOW process so be prepared to work for it.
  3. Don’t expect media to pay your bills straight away. It is very hard to find a full-time, well paid job in media and the competition is fierce. My father always taught me, when it comes to work – to have a plan A, B, C and D. It’s something I have never forgotten. When I worked in radio, I worked freelance at B4U, and at the online shopping channel, I hosted various events, then helped my father out with the accountancy whenever I could and also wrote for Asian Woman in my spare time. So if you want to get into radio or TV, make sure you have a few back up plans up your sleeve.
  4. Be prepared to make time for your work TV/radio you may get the role however you won’t be given a researcher to do all the leg work, so be prepared to run around A LOT.
  5. Don’t see any job as small. Some people turn down great opportunities and experience because it’s not a BIG NAME in the industry. Don’t make that mistake you never know, you may end up working for what is to become or will be one of the biggest companies in the media industry.

Natasha can be found on Twitter @natasghar and on Facebook.