Sunday, 31 July 2016

My UK Travel Wishlist

One thing I mentioned in a previous post about being single is my dilemma around travelling. I want to explore the world but my fear of doing so alone is still holding me back. I can find this both annoying and upsetting. I get annoyed with myself because I feel as though I am allowing my fear to hold me back and sometimes, momentarily, I feel sad that I don't always have someone to share experiences with.

Last year I decided that I had had enough of missing out and decided to take a two week road trip in the UK on my own. I've always liked the idea of going on a road trip, following numerous hours spent watching American films and loving being out in my car, music turned up loud. You
can read about my road trip here.

I still don't feel confident enough to travel abroad alone so instead of thinking about all the places I would love to visit but don't feel ready to at the moment, I thought I would focus on something achievable; other places in the UK that I would love to explore.

So, here are some of the places I would love to visit in the UK

1. Scotland

2. Lake District

3. Wales

4. York

5. Sheffield

Have you spent much time exploring the country you live in? Where would you like to visit?

Sunday, 17 July 2016

My Weekend

This weekend has been just what I needed. For the last two weeks I have been preparing to leave my job and start a new one. Another change for someone who doesn't manages change very well, although I am getting better at it, university placements have helped a lot with that. The last two weeks have been all about work, working long days at last weekend to get all my cases as up to date as possible to hand over to a new member of the team. My team organised a leaving lunch for me and two other members of the team, who are also moving on for various reasons, which was lovely and we were all pretty spoilt.

I'm not good at goodbyes though so felt a bit strange and uncomfortable. I also found Thursday, my last day, more emotional than I thought I would and there were a few tears in the privacy of my car as I drove home. To cheer myself up I went to a local pub with a friend for a few drinks later that evening.

My plans on Friday were what got me through the last two weeks, a morning relaxing at Ufford Park Spa with my Mum. After all that laying about I wanted to curl up and a long nap, I was shattered. I ended up going back to Mum's and watching a film before heading home for an early night.

Yesterday, I spent the morning on the sofa, coffee in hand, catching up on some of my favourite tv programmes, which is a pretty normal Saturday morning for me. At 3 o'clock a group of us met at Suffolk Food Hall to enjoy afternoon tea for a friends baby shower. I love the design of the restaurant and the view from the large windows. The spread provided for the afternoon tea was also delicious, lots of different sweet treats to try.

Google Images
A friend came over in the evening, which meant a quick tidy up, we walked along the Quay, enjoyed a cocktail, picked up a Chinese on the way home and ate it while watching some Sex and the City.

This afternoon I have a date with my garden as it has become a little wild in recent weeks, the typical British weather of sunshine and rain has not helped. I feel that I have had time to myself, time with friends and some time to get back on top of things, or at least start to anyway.

What would a great weekend look like for you?

Sunday, 10 July 2016


Image from Pinterest
The definition being a day or period of celebration or an organised series of concerts, plays or films, typically held annually in the same place. I like that definition, although the inference is that the celebration is linked with religion, I think that music festivals are a celebration, a celebration of music. I had been to see a few artists live at venues like the O2 in London but my first festival experience was Wireless in London. Since then I've been to the Isle of Wight Festival, V and Sundown. This year I've been to two local festivals which I have really enjoyed; Red Rooster and Maverick. My decision to get tickets for larger festivals is the line-up, are there going to be artists and bands playing that I will get excited about? Where as, the reasons I have decided to go to the more local ones is because of the genre of music the festivals are celebrating; Americana and Country.

Red Rooster Festival

My friend couldn't make it on the day so I was faced with the decision to not go and miss out or go it alone. I took a chance and went for it. I was nervous, nervous that people would look at me and judge me for being on my own. But I also felt that way about going to the cinema on my own and I got over that! I'm so pleased that I did go, the sun shone, the sky was blue and the location was beautiful. I took a magazine with me, a blanket and spent the afternoon relaxing, as the evening drew in I took another wander around the grounds and headed to the tent where I danced amongst strangers, for a while I forgot to care what people thought and threw myself into the moment. It felt amazing!


I went to a day of the Maverick festival with my family last weekend. Again, we were really lucky with the British weather and it only rained for a few minutes. The site was not as big as the Red Rooster, however, there were more stages. There were stages of various sizes hidden around the place. Because the site was smaller, it actually made it easier having Grandad with us in his wheelchair.

Things I love
  • Live music
  • Festival atmosphere
  • The variety of food and drink stalls
  • People coming together
  • Relaxing and/or dancing depending on my mood

Things I don't like so much
  • Camping
  • The rain and cold

A festival I would love to go to
  • Boardmasters - even though I don't skate or surf I would love to watch and I can just imagine the location and atmosphere would be awesome.

What festivals have you been to and loved?

Sunday, 3 July 2016

What I'm Reading: The Girl on the Train

Google Images

I read this a while ago while on holiday. I had a lot of talk about the book and the upcoming film, a lot of hype. Perhaps this is why I had an expectation already formed when I opened the first page. Personally, I could not connect with the way the book was written or the main character. Having said that, I needed to read it through to the end to find out what happens and what a twist! I thought the explanation towards the end of the book was really clever.

If you haven't read the book and want to, you may not want to read further.

The book highlights two important issues, I feel; domestic abuse and substance abuse. The main character, Rachel, uses alcohol to numb her negative feelings, which the reader is led to believe are around the break up of her marriage and her inability to become a mother. However, as the story progresses she has also used alcohol to block out the abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband. A key factor in her unravelling the murder mystery. What really caught me was the manipulation of the murderer and abuser, I, as a reader, did not pick up on, I would be interested to know if other readers recognise it.

There is also a lot of judgement of Rachel due to her substance misuse and the impact her drinking has on all areas of her life; work and friendships as well as her own health. I grew up in a family who appeared to have quite judgemental views of those who misuse substances and subsequently end up homeless, those were the views I listened to and thought I had too. That was until I undertook a student placement in an organisation who supported individuals in their recovery. I listened and learnt a lot about the reasons people may start taking drugs or drinking alcohol. Developing an understanding of why, did help me develop some empathy and compassion. The reasons why are not excuses, however, they can be painful experiences that people need support with to work through and find healthier ways to manage.

Have you read the book, what were your thoughts?

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Me, Myself & I

I'm a single gal who lives on her own with her two cats for company and cuddles

Sometimes I think I'm more bothered about how people will react or what they will think than my situation. Most of the time I'm happy being single. I have spent the last 6 years learning to be ok with it being just me. I know some people suspect that I am the way I am because of a past relationship and this maybe so but what I've learnt is that I want to rely on myself for my happiness. I want to know who I am and be comfortable with that. I recognised when watching the film 'How to be Single' that I often change when I start dating someone, I try to be who I think they want me to be. I don't want to do that. If and when I find myself in a relationship I want to be strong enough in myself to not change, consider compromise at times yes, but not change who I am. I saw a quote of Facebook the other day which I loved and which reflected what I've been working towards;

'You have this one life. How do you wanna spend it? Apologizing? Regretting? Questioning? Hating yourself? Dieting? Running after people who don't see you? Be brave. Believe in yourself. Do what feels good. Take risks. you have this one life. Make yourself proud.'

I do feel proud of what I have achieved over the last 6 years, I have found an area of work that I am passionate about. I started off at the bottom and have been working my way up, learning a lot and making new friends along the way. Part of that included going to university and gaining my degree. I also have my home that I have made, maintained and have plans to improve with some TLC. I have learnt to feel comfortable doing things I enjoy on my own like going for walks, out for meals, to the cinema and festivals. I even went away on my own last year, my road trip around the South of England. I also have a close family and friendship group who love and support me and I them. I have been part of their journeys as well; developing relationships, engagements, pregnancies and the birth of a first child. When I look ahead to the future and think about having a family, I think of doing it on my own. 

Some people might think that strange, or sad perhaps. I think it's realistic. Why put my life of hold because I haven't found that special person? Why should I miss out on doing the things I want to, that I enjoy, that make me happy?    

At IoW Festival
What are your thoughts on being single? Have you enjoyed being single?

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Caring: Carers Week 2016

Google Images
This coming week is Carers Week, 6th - 12th June. A week of recognition and celebration of the role of a carer. The carers we are talking about are those who are not employed as a care assistant but those who care for a friend or family member on a regular, short term or full time basis. According to Carers Week there are 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK. I've mentioned previously that my Mum has become my Grandad's main carer since we lost my Nan and wrote about a weekend I stayed with him here.

I thought I would take the opportunity to write a post about my families experiences and how they relate to the Carers Week Campaign, Building Carer Friendly Communities. First of all I watched my Nan leave the house less and less as my Grandad's mobility decreased and she found it harder to move him around. She never once conveyed frustration or resentment around this. It frustrated the hell out of me knowing that there was help and support available but on the surface she appeared too stubborn to ask for or accept it. I think the real reason was fear. Fear of what might happen if a social worker came in, fear of care assistants coming in at various times of the day. She was afraid of other people coming into her home and taking over. Taking care of the house and Grandad had been her role for many years. Having some experience working in the care sector I tried to reassure her that that wouldn't happen, that she could still be involved and that we could find someone both her and my Grandad liked and felt comfortable with. No amount of reassurance worked and she struggled on.

My Mum accepts some help, we requested an assessment and some adapted equipment. We also receive an allowance to pay a carer to provide care within his home. We have Grandad's carer come in for part of the day during the week. The other part of the day and weekends my Mum provides the care. My Sister, Cousin and I help when we can, usually evenings and weekends so that my parents can go out and maintain some of their social life and some time away from caring. Don't get me wrong, my family do not see the role of carer as a burden in any way and I really appreciate the opportunity it has given me to spend more one on one time with Grandad. Having said that it can be hard. Hard in the sense that you have someone who is dependent on you, someone you are responsible for. We went through quite a long spell last year where we were constantly on edge due to his health, always wondering when he might get another infection, will the effect be worse than the time before, will he be able to fight it off like he did before? The role can also be restrictive, yes we now have the van and an adapted wheelchair which does make things a lot easier in one way but harder in another. The wheelchair is bigger and heavier so hills and small spaces are difficult, pushing him on anything that is not tarmac/concrete can also be difficult, steps and stairs are a definite no. This gives us a few things to think about before we head out for the day.
What does a carer friendly community mean to me? I can only comment on what I feel would be helpful from my experiences. For me, I think work needs to be done to provide people with information about where to go to ask for help but also that there is no shame in asking. You are not failing, you are not passing your duty or responsibility onto someone else. You are simply asking for someone to work alongside you to support both yourself and the person you care for. If I hadn't have known where to go to request an assessment, my family would have been stumbling around in the dark. I do not believe anyone at the hospital asked about our situation when my Nan was taken ill, no support or information offered. I also feel that companies that provide care need to offer more flexible times, we found it really difficult to find a company who could offer a block of care longer than 2 hours. What realistically can you achieve in 2 hours? Especially when it takes a good 20 minutes to drive to the nearest town.

Finally, accessibility can be a real issue. I'm not sure what the answer to this problem is, I'm aware that it is not always easy to make alterations to existing buildings or open spaces and that doing so can be expensive. However, on the flip side of that, my Grandad is still a person and deserves to access and enjoy being out in the community and we as a family need to be able to go out and about and take him with us. We all need and deserve a good quality of life, not a restrictive one.

Although, I think we are making progress as a society, I believe there is still a long way to go. If you want to have a look at ways you can help, hop over to the Carers Week website. They have a checklist to help you think about whether your local community is a carer friendly one and how you can help improve it through providing information to others.

What are your thoughts on caring and carer friendly communities?

Sunday, 29 May 2016

A Day In Southwold

What a lovey way to start the Bank Holiday weekend. A stroll along the promenade with the sun shining and the company of a good friend. We walked and chatted the length of the prom from the Pier towards the Harbour. When the prom ended we carried on following the shoreline choosing to walk on the rougher grassy area rather than the beach itself. If you like fish this is a great place to visit, there are places to buy fresh fish as well as fish restaurants. We had planned to walk from Southwold pier to a cute looking tea room in Walberswick for afternoon tea but it was a little further than we thought so we decided we would return another day with our waking boots. By this point I was getting hungry and really looking forward to my afternoon tea filled with sweet treats. We turned around and headed back towards the town to find a place to eat.

We walked passed a grassy green kind of area next to a pub. Single people, couples, friends and families had food and drinks from the pub as well as their own picnics. As the weather was warm enough to sit outside, we decided to join them and make up our own lunch. Instead of picking up some sandwiches from the local Tesco we walked past we were drawn towards the Two Magpies Bakery. It was difficult to choose what to order as there were so many yummy looking cakes and pastries on display. In the end I went for a mozzarella, tomato and pesto melt, hazelnut chocolate brownie and a latte. It was a very tasty meal, the sandwiches are made with thick chunky bread and the brownie was also a good size.

After lunch, we walked back to the pier and headed our separate ways home, her heading in one direction and in the other.
Do you have any lovely plans for the Bank Holiday weekend?

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Home & Garden: Outside

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have nearly lived in my home for five years. I'm sad to say that I haven't done much to it. Not like my friends who re-decorated before they moved in. I have re-painted and my parents helped me with my garden and that's about it. Today I had a new fence erected so I now have one that can stand up on its own without support. Feels a bit grown up to start spending money on your home. Since getting my post qualifying job last year I have been thinking about things I would like to do now I have a little bit more money to spend on it. Of course I have been browsing Pinterest for inspiration and thought I would share some of my pins with you.


I want to neaten up the area in front of the house and have thought about planting a lavender bush for a while. I want to re-paint the house and really like the cream and grey/green colours. I know everyone moans about how slippery decking is, I still love it and would like to have it in a section of the garden. I would like to add a bit of colour and some nice scents to my borders as well as adding a comfy, relaxed seating area with lights or candles. As I've mentioned before I love the sound of running water to a water feature would be amazing!
What would you love to have in your garden?

Sunday, 15 May 2016

A Reverse Bucket List

Lately, I have spent a lot of time thinking ahead, I like a plan to know what I am working towards. In a strange way that helps me to feel like I am not drifting or wasting time. Since finishing my degree and graduating I can't picture what's next. I can't figure out what my next goal is, what I want to work towards. I keep looking at my 30 Before 30 list and have many more things to tick off, however, I still feel like that's not enough. So instead I am going to try a reverse bucket list, a list of things I have done, a list of accomplishments. I first read about this idea on Boho Berry's blog and realised that I don't look back and value what I've achieved enough.

'Funny how quick we are to write off what we've done in the past and only focus on all the things we want for the future.'

So here's my reverse bucket list

1. May not have hung out with the cool kids at high school but threw some great parties with great friends

2. Left high school with good GCSE grades (this year it will be 10 years since my high school prom!)

3. Have been lucky enough to have been offered most jobs that I have interviewed for

4. Had some great experiences through volunteering

5. Travelled in England and Europe alone as well as with friends and family (many more places I have yet to visit)

6. Been on 3 girls holidays

7. Went on a solo road trip along the South Coast of England

8. Swam with dolphins

9. Seen live music at festivals and smaller venues

10. Bought a house (which I will have lived in for 5 years already in July)

11. Lived independently for almost 5 years

12. I have two cats (managed to keep them alive for 5 years also)

13. Graduated university

14. Completed a 5k Park Run

15. Jumped out of a plane

16. Got tattooed

17. Been asked to be a Bridesmaid (twice!)

18. Taken meaningful photos for two good friends

19. Able to afford a car I love

20. Pieces I've written for a local newspaper have been published online

What would be on your reverse bucket list?

Sunday, 8 May 2016

A Fork in the Road

Image from Pinterest
A few months ago I explored my thoughts around choices in life, after reading Here or There. It's safe to say that during some particularly bad days or weeks I have questioned whether the career I went to university to pursue is actually for me. Whether I had made a mistake thinking I could do it. I also questioned what was stopping me from thinking about making a change - the safer (financially secure) option. Well, a job came up that I felt quite excited about so I applied. It's still within the same 'career' as such but in a different area. Hopefully this position suits me more as I made the decision not to re-apply for my job.

There is less of a fork in the road on the job front, however, I have been worried that there may be one ahead in relation to my friendships. My friends are getting to the stage where they are settling down with their boyfriends, getting married and having babies. My life is not going in that direction at all at the moment, I'm not sure whether I want it to. My worry is that I will have less and less in common with my friends and they will build friendships with people that they do have more in common with.

My fears have been dampened by a change of attitude. A more positive outlook (I'm trying something new). I was genuinely happy for both friends who got engaged last year and for one who found out she was pregnant. That happiness and excitement was expressed through conversations about plans and sending them ideas/inspiration I came across. My worries were lessened when both friends asked me to be one of their bridesmaids, I can't describe how much it meant to me to be asked. It also meant a lot when my friend accepted my offer to take some pregnancy photographs. All these things have enabled me to feel included in the changes in their lives and not left behind.

I was worried that our paths were going to begin to go in different directions but these moments reassure me that our friendships are stronger than that and we can remain friends even when our lives change and grow even if that takes us in different directions.

Have you had a fork in the road in part of your life? How did you decide which road to take?

Monday, 2 May 2016

What I've Been Reading: Me Before You

Google Images
Me Before You is one of the books I read while on holiday. Every now and then I like to read something different to my usual choice of crime thrillers. Sometimes I go to the library and browse the shelves and other times I Google the top 10 books to read from this year or last. Google found me the three books I downloaded on the Kindle; The Girl on the Train, Me Before You and A Little Life.

I was drawn to this book because of the hint of romance, the carer in me and my thoughts on disability. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters and following the development of relationships. I loved Lou's strong views that life is worth living, that it can be meaningful as this echoes my thoughts. However, what we both had to consider was how the person with the disability really felt and listen to what they really wanted. Throughout the story were some really touching, special moments that made me well up, both happy and sad. I'm not too sure that I could go and watch this film at the cinema, if I did I would need plenty of tissues and a pair of sunglasses.

I think the story raises and explores the important issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide, another concept for the reader to consider alongside the characters. Within that, the characters question what it means to live; ambition, independence, relationships. Some of the quotes from the book really make you think, here are a few that stand out for me;

'Push yourself, don't settle'
'You only get one life.
It is actually your duty to live it as fully as possible'
Have you read Me Before You, what did you think?
What are your thoughts on watching a film if you've read the book?   

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Rhodes: In Pictures

I took most of my holiday snaps with the camera on my phone as I nearly always have that with me. I did that my Canon with me as well and took it out with us a few days (my family would have soon got fed up with me if I took out with us all the time). Although, the island was very quiet, I am unsure whether this is due to the time of year or the economic climate, or both, but I also found it quite beautiful. The different towns and sides of the island varied considerably, I loved the contrast.

Here are a few of my favourite photos from our holiday, some have been taken with my phone and others the Canon.

I would love to hear your thoughts, have you ever been to Rhodes or a Greek Island?

Please do not copy any of my photos without asking first