30/12/2015

Happy New Year! A look back at 2015

It’s both easy and hard to believe that 2015 is coming to an end. Looking back to January, a lot has changed in those last twelve months, and yet, it almost feels like it was only yesterday. So, as its nearly New Years Eve, here’s a list of what 2015 has bought with it for me, and what I hope to achieve next year.

I think, both personally and academically, 2015 has been one to be proud of. Of course there have been set backs, both minor and major, but overcoming these has only bought with it the realisation that I’m made of more stronger stuff than I thought.

University

This year I graduated from Bournemouth University after three years with a 2:1 in English, as well as achieving a high first of 80% in my dissertation that was both the most fun and challenging piece of writing I’ve completed yet. It’s not every day I get an excuse to write about John Hughes’ movies and call it work!






Work

Saying goodbye to uni was both sad and exciting, as I started my first full time job as a Marketing and Communications Intern in August. I’ve only been there for four months, but I’ve found my feet and have met some of the loveliest people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. I’m looking forward to spending most of 2016 learning more and seeing where this experience takes me next.

Personal

This year, I travelled by plane for the first time in June when Kieran and I took our first holiday as just the both of us to Malta. We were also lucky to spend the week in Stockholm in October - which was one to cross off my bucket list as a destination I had wanted to see for a long time (you can read my travel diary so far here and here).




Gamla Stan, Stockholm

I also had my first piece of paid work as a freelance writer published in Biometric Technology Today. To me, there was nothing better than researching, writing and completing a piece that is now available to view to subscribers and students online. It seems strange that only earlier this year I would be that kind of student searching for an article for an assignment.

Kieran and I will be moving into our first flat after we found one in late December, which we get to call home in January next year. Even though we spend most of our time together at his house anyway, I’m looking forward to decorating it and making it our own with him. And yes, I’m even excited about buying cleaning products… I’m sure that will soon change!

Blogging

This year, I started to take my blog a little more seriously than I did the year before. I bought a new Nikon D3200, just so I could take better quality photos for it, and had the look and layout of my blog altered to reflect what I hope was more fitting for me and my content. I also attended my first bloggers meet up event at The Vintage Emporium in Bournemouth, where I met some lovely fellow bloggers from the area!



With Bournemouth Bloggers at The Vintage Emporium

What I hoping for in 2016.


Well, I think first and foremost I’d want to continue with good health for myself and those around me. But, going with the above, here’s a few things I’m hoping come my way over the next twelve months.

As my internship finishes in August, I want to progress into a career that allows me to take everything I’ve learnt with me. This is something I’ll focus on nearer the time but, as I know too well, time goes quicker than you think! So, I’ll be keeping an eye out and giving my next steps proper thought. Which is both exciting and daunting at the same time.

I know a lot of bloggers will say this, but I want to blog more. And keep it consistent. I’m the first to admit that I’m not that great at keeping to a blogging schedule, especially if it’s been a busy day and all I want to do is crash out and do nothing. I know this gets it nowhere! So, I’ll be buying myself a new planner (who needs an excuse, right?) and planning content in advance to make sure there are no date gaps. I also want to meet more likeminded bloggers and be more active in the community, as I really enjoyed the events I attended this year.

Again, another new year cliche, but I want to improve my health and fitness in 2016. This means more gym visits and classes, but I’ve already signed up for adult ballet classes and bought my shoes, so there’s no turning back now! This isn't just solely for physical reasons, but more for my fitness levels, as becoming less active in a desk based job has taken its toll slightly. I miss mid afternoon runs and long boarding along the beach early in the morning!

I also want to start being more creative. One of the perks of once working at Hobbycraft meant that my craft box was never empty. And, unfortunately, it remains full of things that have been left waiting for me to make a start on. Lack of time has meant I’ve not even opened a sewing machine that I bought this time last year, or an easel. This is despite knowing that I find drawing and painting therapeutic, or that making anything to give to someone makes me happier than stressing out about buying something less sentimental. I'd also love to be able to fill our flat with new creations and things we've made along the way!




My box for the Oh Comely Perfect Strangers project



The wreath I created at a workshop with The Wild Fox


As for the rest, well, I'll take it as it goes. Whilst a fair few of my achievements have been the result of hard work and perseverance, 2015 has also been about enjoying the unexpected and spending time with those I care about. Here's hoping 2016 brings me much of the same.

Wishing you all a happy new year and an amazing 2016.

Love,

06/12/2015

The Wild Fox Wreath Workshop

“Go big or go home” was the advice from Joey, founder of The Wild Fox florist, as our workshop began. Based in Hampshire, the florist specialises in ethical, natural and simply beautiful floral creations for a wide range of occasions. So, when Kieran’s mum Frances asked if we were interested in taking part in a wreath making workshop hosted at her house, I couldn’t, and didn’t, say no. I’ve always marvelled at those who could make stunning centrepieces and door hangings with a rustic touch, so fancied myself as being one of those people who had a little know how on creating one myself.





Joey arrived at Kieran’s house, armed with boxes full of various naturally foraged leaves, branches and holly, as well as dainty décor bits and pieces including orange slices, cinnamon sticks and glitter pine cones. It meant that whatever style of wreath we had in mind, we weren't short of anything we needed to get started!







To begin, the five of us taking part were given a copper wire circle to stuff with as much moss as we liked to create our base, secured with reel wire. Joey then talked us through how to secure our branches and leaves to create our desired effect, advising us to envisage how we wanted our wreaths to look before beginning as not to go into making one blindly. All I knew was that I wanted mine to look like something that wouldn’t look out of place in a forest, so my guidelines weren’t entirely set in stone!



After Joey’s demonstration, I headed straight for a mishmash of various branches and eucalyptus which I attached and wound with wire tightly to secure in place, tucking in browned leaves, twigs and pine cones for a rustic touch of colour as I went along. Joey showed us how pretty much anything goes in terms of décor for our wreaths, as she pulled off moss from a branch, scrunched it together and attached to the wreath with twisted wire sticks, adding a dainty but significant element of interest.



After much wiring, tea drinking and cat chasing (a certain little Lady was just as intrigued with the floral décor as we were!) my wreath began to resemble something vaguely presentable. Whilst “go big” was Joey’s advice, I think “go chubby” was more mine… I figured that at least it had character!





Joey then taught us a vital lesson in wreath making… how to tie the perfect bow. This has never been a particular forte of mine as I usually resort to tying mine like a shoelace, unforgivable I know! In this instance, I continued my rustic theme by adding a bow created from a strip of cut hessian sack, held in place with wire in the middle and pinned into my wreath. I positioned mine on the top left hand corner to allow my leaves to drop nicely from the side and to give a main point of interest at the top.



And voila! For my first attempt, I was pretty pleased with my chubby wreath, which has now proudly found a home in my hallway. Joey allowed us each to take on a copper wire for our future creations, which I’m eager to create in the run up to Christmas. Who says you can have too many wreaths?

I had such a lovely time with Joey during our workshop that I’m already looking forward to joining in on some of her future classes, which will include a terrarium workshop. I don’t need any persuading!

To find out more about The Wild Fox and any upcoming classes, visit The Wild Fox website.

11/11/2015

The Stockholm Diaries - Part Two - Exploring Djurgarden and Ostermalm

We awoke on Tuesday morning with one important question to mind - where do we go for breakfast? Thanks to trawling both Google and Pinterest, we decided to pay a visit to Broms cafe, just outside of Ostermalm. After taking the tube to Karlavägen, we ended up lost again, resulting in yet another interrogation of our mini pull out map (which became our go to guide for the duration of the trip, even if it did unashamedly scream tourist!)

We eventually ended up in Broms, a beautiful little cafe / florist that combined both minimalist and rustic charm with its array of modern artwork and industrial lighting. If I didn’t feel like I was in Stockholm before…





In keeping with my ever so touristy appearance, I opted for a cinnamon roll, a firm favourite with the Swedes. I did, however, receive a slightly puzzled look from the waiter when I asked for tea and soya milk. It all made sense when he pointed to the ‘DIY’ coffee and tea station, stocked with nothing other than fruit tea. No wonder I seemed strange! I can’t envisage fruit tea and milk ever being a good combination. Slightly disheartened, I went back to enjoy my cinnamon roll, followed by a glass of soya milk and a few disgruntled sips of fruit tea.



We then decided to explore Djurgarden which, to Kieran’s element, was a vast sweeping park of gardens and fairytale-esque houses. If you think I’m exaggerating, you’re mistaken. Even the Nordiska Museet, Stockholm’s lifestyle and traditions museum that sits just over the connecting bridge from the city centre into Djurgarden, resembles an expansive castle amongst the towering trees. We were intrigued and made note to return on Wednesday, where the museum opens for free between 5 - 8pm. Another tip - check museum and attraction websites for discounted rates for certain times of the week.



It goes without saying that Djurgarden was beautiful, where the only interruption was the occasional tram going past - hardly an unwelcome sight for someone living in England! We ended up finding a bench beneath the trees to rest after our walk, which shed their leaves in the wind to create a rain like effect. Combine that with a pristine waterfront view and you can understand how we fell in love with the place!




After a stop at the hotel (and a change of shoes. Note to self: pointed black boots are not suitable footwear for long walks… Ow) we headed into the city centre to explore some of shops in town. It didn’t take long for us to take refuge in Designtorget, filled to the brim with quirky and minimalistic homeware. It’s at this point that I really wished I’d saved more space in my suitcase. Or, you know, just bought another one with me.



We then found ourselves in Things, which is exactly what it says, really. Whether you’re into an eclectic mix of Bohemian, simplistic or rustic, this is your place. All under one roof, you’re sure to find something you like. And we did. We found a little too much! Kieran fell in love with these amazing garden plant illustrations wall hanging, whereas I wanted to take each and every one of these succulents home. So cute!




It was at this point that we decided to make a swift exit before we bought the entire store and hunt down something for dinner. With Ostermalm being nearby, we opted to pay a visit to restaurant/bar Nybrogatan 83, an evidently popular hangout for drinks and food. We were informed on arrival that there would be a 45 minute wait, so stopped for drinks to reflect on the day. After about 20 minutes, we were ushered into the main seating area where a live band played a mixture of folk tunes whilst we pored over the menu. With so much choice, it was reassuring to see that we also wouldn't be paying the prices we did the night before at Berns!

We decided that, because dinner was go good and the staff were so lovely, we would return for breakfast to try their morning menu later in the week. For the time-being, however, we began planning our next stop that I’ll be talking about in part three of my Stockholm travel diary - Gamla Stan. Until then!

08/11/2015

The Stockholm Diaries: Arriving in Stockholm / The Basics


For the past few years, I’ve really wanted to visit Stockholm. Everything about the place seemed beautiful - the scenery, the shopping and of course, the home design. So, earlier this year, Kieran and I booked our flights and hotel to spend five days in Sweden’s capital city at the end of October. It didn't take long before I was daydreaming about what to pack and what places to visit, Pinterest board included! 

Flying from Heathrow 

We booked via Expedia, which was a bit of a mistake, seeing as they kindly forgot to mention that our checked luggage wasn’t included. First piece of advice on my part, check this with your airline first! We ended up paying an additional £95 at check in to get Kieran’s suitcase there and back, as luckily mine was small enough to go through as carry on… which surprised me as well! After that mild anxiety inducing incident, we headed straight for the Pilot’s bar in Heathrow to await our two and a half hour flight at 12:55pm.

As I’m not a regular flyer, travelling by plane is not always an enjoyable experience for me, but this time around I was fine. I think it was the complimentary tea that eased the pain! We eventually arrived in Stockholm Arlanda airport in darkness (Stockholm has limited daylight hours during this time of year - the sun usually sets around 4pm).

Getting around

We then picked up an SL card at the airport help desk, which covers all public transport in Stockholm, including buses, tubes and trams. In hindsight, we probably would have skipped this, as we got everywhere mainly on foot. The city is a lot smaller than we anticipated! The card itself is 300 SEK (approx. £23) which in itself isn't bad for seven days worth of unlimited travel, so if you’re going to be venturing further afield this is more ideal. 

Perhaps next time we’ll opt for the Stockholm Card, which also offers free entry to all Stockholm attractions, such as they’re vast array of museums with insight into every aspect of Swedish life. And yes, that even includes a Viking museum in the form of the Vasa Museet. 

Arriving at Berns

We then headed straight for the Berns hotel in Näckströmsgatan after taking the Arlanda Express train from the airport to the city centre, which is roughly a thirty minute trip. Again, there are other (cheaper) options, such as the Airport Bus, but as it was approaching 7pm we were both tired and hungry! We then of course got lost after taking the T-Bana from Centralstation to Ostermalmorg, but a lovely couple stopped to offer us directions after seeing us stood on a street corner, map in hand and puzzled look on our faces!

Asiatiska Restaurant 

By the time we arrived at Berns Hotel, it was approaching 8pm, so we opted to have dinner at their Asiatiska Restaurant. With an Asian themed menu, it didn't take long for us to both find something we both love - sushi! What we didn't quite realise was how expensive the food was. We knew the Berns was fancy, but on our first night, we managed to spend a total of 800 SEK between us (approx. £61). 

Although this isn't a huge amount for a fancier sit down meal, it didn't ease the pain of having to earlier splash out for our travel cards and train. That aside, it was amazing sushi and, if you're looking for somewhere to indulge, this is definitely your place! The staff were more than helpful, who pulled together some vegetarian options on request. 


One thing we noticed shortly after arrival is that there are no language barriersThe majority of Swedish people we met and spoke to could speak impeccable English, although I still wish I'd managed to have learnt more Swedish myself - even if it did mean I'd end up getting some puzzled looks and corrections!


We then headed back to our room for some much needed R&R to prepare for the next days excursion into Djursgarden, which I'll be featuring in Part Two of my Stockholm Diaries blog series. Watch this space! 

04/10/2015

Exploring Anderwood, New Forest / 4 October 2015

There’s something about autumn that always makes me want to venture outdoors, even more so than in the summer months. So, Kieran and I decided to make the most of our weekend off together to visit Anderwood in the New Forest, a route I hadn't taken before but one Kieran knew well from family picnics over the years. 



Top: Primark | Jeans: TopShop Joni Jeans | Boots: ASOS | Bag: H&M

The forest itself was beautiful, naturally, but at this time of year it seemed even lovelier; to me, there’s nothing nicer than wrapping up warm to explore the woods as fluttering orange leaves fly from trees to prepare for winter. The promise of a warm cup of tea at the end doesn't hurt, either!




It didn't take long for Kieran to spot a tree to climb, commandeering the camera as he discovered mini mushrooms hidden within its branches. Overgrown bushes - with their contrasting leaves of yellows, greens and oranges - gave the park a very fairytale-esque feel, especially as we made our way through a wooden gate to delve further into the woods. We decided to go off the path to get a closer look at some of the more unusual looking trees tucked away, witnessing a large (and very loud!) bird of prey overhead.




After about an hour and a half of exploring, climbing and jumping over various dips and logs, we walked back to the car to drive towards The White Buck in Burley - one of our favourite (and most common) haunts when we’ve over this neck of the woods. That was until we spotted some of the cutest pigs who were very engrossed in eating the acorns that had dropped from the trees, apart from one who took a brief liking to Kieran before returning to their foraging! 



Once at The White Buck I opted for a glass of prosecco over tea, as the weather had perked up and was quite warm in the bright sunshine, with Kieran going for his usual pint of ale. We were feeling more picky food rather than a large meal, so both ordered a bowl of chips each with olives on the side, which were delicious and much needed after building up an appetite from our walk!



I’m hoping to come back in time for Halloween later this month, as last year we had such a fun time making a rustic hessian garland to hang above our pumpkin patch (view the post here) and would love to have a go at creating something a little different this year. Watch this space!

Love,

14/09/2015

Exploring Studland and 23rd Birthday Celebrations

For some, turning 23 is no big deal. I get that the ‘big ones’ are 18, 21 and then every ‘0’ after that. But for me, this year my birthday has felt more like a personal celebration for what’s been an eventful twelve months. Finishing uni with a 2.1 and an 80% in my dissertation, followed by starting a full time paid internship in marketing/communications has been a huge step for me. 

It also inevitably meant my blog was looking a bit sparse as of late, which I’m hoping to change now I’ve settled into a routine. So apologies for the lack of posts recently!


However, to celebrate, I took the day off work to explore Studland with Kieran, camera in hand. 

We visited last year for Kieran’s 23rd, but before that, I can’t really remember visiting Studland all that much. So it made sense to venture out to somewhere so near my own doorstep, plus a stop at The Pig hotel may have been a contributing factor! 

We naturally stopped off at Framptons along the way for breakfast, where I opened my amazing presents from Kieran and his family. I’m excited to use my glass teapot and flowering bud teas, as well as my Lush set and spa voucher. I've been very spoilt! 


Once at Studland, we took a walk down to Old Harry Rocks to take in the beautiful coastline and relax for a while. It’s working full time that really makes me treasure the occasional moments I have like this just to enjoy the great outdoors, especially when it means Kieran and I get to appreciate each others company even more. Days out during the week now seem a bit like a rarity with our clashing schedules! 







We then walked back up to The Pig hotel, where we snacked on garlic flatbread with a Prosecco and ale in the glorious sunshine - I was lucky to get a sunny day at 21 degrees in September! 








Afterwards, we took a mini tour around the grounds to explore their garden, which grows all of the vegetables and herbs for their own dishes. 









Before leaving, we had a quick look around inside and grabbed a tea (and a cookie or two!) to make the most of our brief stay. 


We then went for a short bike ride around West Moors heathland back home in the hazy sunlight and autumnal heat as the day started to draw to a close. I hadn't gone on a bike ride in years, so the realisation that I was still pretty good at it (which is, by my definition, not falling off flat on my face!) was one I welcomed. I'm determined to do it more often and may have started looking around for a new bike to take me on my travels!

I really couldn't have asked for a better way to spend my birthday, and I'm looking forward another year of amazing opportunities and experiences!

Love,