All Good Things

Haven’t blogged in a month. Was recently reminded by my friend Polly that my blog, in her words, is ‘DEAD’. Caps and all. We’re still friends, I promise. It’s been a rocky month at home, but now I’m back to wanting to write again. That’s nice, isn’t it?

Anyway. Things I’ve done since the 12th of July (my last post) include…

14059985_10209842113026716_1381968443_o

1. The Ukelele
Yes, you read that correctly. I have decided, after months of trying to shimmy myself into a hobby (teaching myself Italian and attempting to re-learn how to knit were among the non-starters), that the tiny guitar usually reserved for YouTube musicians and primary school children will be my weapon of choice. I discovered that Sue Ryder, a UK medical care and support charity, actually sell their own range of beginner’s ukeleles in a variety of colours. I opted for the garish orange model – of course I did, this is me we’re talking about – and with the help of my guitar tutor brother (handy) I’ve started tackling the basics. I’m enjoying it so far!

14045103_10209842112866712_79911948_o

2. Read some great books
Since the 12th of July I have finished two books (and I’m currently trying to juggle another two: bit of a Fletcher fest this end, I’ve gone for Billy And Me by Giovanna, and On The Other Side by Carrie Hope). They were both fantastic reads and I’d highly recommend them both!

– the first was I Let You Go, by Clare Mackintosh – a really creepy crime novel that rapidly becomes a psychological thriller that’ll make your blood boil and not want to move until you’ve finished it. Part 1’s a bit slow, but it’s all context and it’s all crucial to the development of the plot – once you hit Part 2 you’ll be on the edge of your seat. This was also a bonus, while I was still in the post-book haze:

clare

– the second was Dead Famous by Ben Elton, which I bought off the back of watching a ScarfDemon YouTube video (this one, to be exact!). Ben Elton’s writing style is quick, witty and his characters are so well-rounded and likeable. Dead Famous is a parody of Big Brother, written at the time where BB was the talking point of the summer. Elton introduces a cast of wacky housemates, but throws a whodunnit into the mix when a housemate is murdered on day 27 with no recorded evidence. The timeline of events is so cleverly presented in Dead Famous that you’ll be kept guessing right until the final few pages.

3. Bought…a lot of new clothes
I won’t disclose how much I actually spent, because I’m slightly ashamed, but it’s one of the best things I did this month. On a night out a few weeks ago I realised I didn’t have anything to wear that I felt good in. I felt the same a few nights ago heading to a chilled reunion with all but one of my girls, and that night didn’t even require leaving the house. So I did what any girl in a self-esteem crisis would do – took myself off to Birmingham for the morning in my easiest-to-remove pinafore and tried on half the clothes in the Bullring. I came back with six tops, three skirts, two pairs of shoes, a feeling of accomplishment and a depleted bank balance. All in all, good Saturday. If only I now had any money left to go out and look good in the things I bought…

So that’s been my month! I’ve done a lot of hanging out with pals, foaming milk and blending milkshakes, but these are the bits and pieces I’ve done for myself, by myself – something that’s equally as important to feel comfortable doing.

If you fancy checking out the ukeleles – they’re £14.99 each and the proceeds go towards helping critically ill patients and their loved ones when they really need it – you can peruse the whole collection here.

Emma x

21: My Year in Review

I started writing a post called ’22 Things I’ve Learned in 22 Years’ to publish in time for my birthday next Monday (the 30th May, send me all ur presents, etc.) but even I was getting bored of it before I got to 22. I made it to my 18th point before I deleted it all, because seriously? Who is going to be reading 22 of my rambles? They weren’t even *that* insightful. So I’ve got a better post for you. 10 Cool Things I Did When I Was 21 – my year in review, if you like.

FullSizeRender (1)

1. My Job with Totepool
Okay, funny place to start but I’m trying to be chronological here. I worked Royal Ascot mid-June and then Glorious Goodwood in July. It was a stressful job, sure, and you’d always finish a festival not quite sure your toes were still attached to your feet, but it was really fun and I’ve got some pretty cool stories from working there. Talking to the entertainment editor of the Telegraph in the 100-acre garden of the CEO of Ascot Racecourse’s lodge at his pre-races lunch? Being tipped £60 by a Swedish prince, and another £20 from an American businessman after choosing him the winning horse in a 28-horse race? Being six feet away from the Queen’s carraige and receiving a royal wave in my first day on the job? It was, all in all, a really cool experience.

2. Finishing my degree
With a 2:1 no less! I was so, so pleased. All the boozing and celebrating is a bit of a blur now but it was so much fun. Highlights include a roadtrip to Henley blasting The Weeknd, having a wine mom night with cheese, crackers and pizza and a house party full of party people, a huge sound system and other disco treats.

3. Graduating
My graduation was a great day. It was the perfect end to my uni experience – the last event my family attended as a 4-piece, the sun was shining, I wasn’t bloated so felt fab in my dress and I got to spend the day with my Philosophy department, who really made uni what it was for me.

4. Got a new job!
Not the graduate job I was expecting to walk into straight out of uni, but after two months of unemployment at home I decided to just cut my losses and take what I could find. On September 7th I began working as a barista in my local coffee shop that ISN’T a Costa or a Starbucks (hint, hint). It was p daunting after being a checkout girl for 4 years, but I’ve met some great people through work and it’s been quite rewarding getting stuck into something a bit different.

FullSizeRender (4)

5. Went to New York
Yes, my 21st birthday present! Anna and I went to the Big Apple for 5 days, from the 17th-22nd September 2015. It was the best trip I’ve EVER been on and we did so many unforgettable things. We stayed on Times Square and it really is like being on another planet. It’s my favourite city in the world.

6. Attended Hachette’s ‘Insight Into Publishing’ Day
On the 4th November, 2015 I was invited to spend the day at Hachette’s publishing house on the Embankment in London, where I found out about every aspect of the publishing industry, received a lovely tote bag full of books and info and attended a wine reception on their rooftop bar (I KNOW, how swish). From the 6am train I had to catch this end to the meal deal I ate on my connection home from Birmingham, it was a real adventure and I’m still honoured to have been given the opportunity.

7. Planned my Dad’s funeral
Glossing over the horrible time of it we had in his final 6 months, the 5th January 2016 – Dad’s cremation, thanksgiving of life service and wake – was actually a really lovely day for me. We packed out the church my Mum and Dad got married in with friends, family and colleagues, all together to celebrate the life of the best man ever. We listened to his favourite music and shared all our memories of him and it was a day full of love and support. (Plus, heading out to his old watering hole and getting smashed as a family afterwards was a nice way to end proceedings!)

8. Travelled to Berlin
I visited my oldest friend Victoria in January who is teaching in Berlin for her year abroad with uni. Such a spontaneous little visit but I had the best time and absolutely wish I’d gone over sooner! Berlin is such a great place. I fell in love with its character.

IMG_3220

9. Saw The Book Of Mormon in the West End
The Book of Mormon is a musical I’d been desperate to attend since its release, but always kind of wrote off because getting a seat in one of the shows requires selling your firstborn child and not eating for a month. Seriously, we met a bloke in New York in the queue for our Broadway tickets who told us he’d snagged two tickets for the Broadway production for $500. There’s nothing bargainous about that! So I was over the moon when my Mum decided to treat me and her to a day out in London and she agreed to see the musical with me after we found some cheap-ish seats (if you can call £78 each cheap-ish). It’s HILARIOUS and definitely the funniest show I’ve ever seen. Go if you can!

10. To Tenerife!
A spontaneous holiday abroad, you say? Booked 5 days before you leave? Such a fab decision. We were only there for a few days and had a super relaxed, topping-up-the-tans-and-burns getaway – as well as visiting the world-famous waterpark Siam Park.

So, even though I’d chalk this year up as being the lowest of the lows in terms of my mental health and overall wellbeing, I can’t deny that I’ve done some really brilliant things and had a lot of great opportunities. It’s been a year of growing up, entering the ‘real world’ (so to speak) and just generally coping, which I’m proud of myself for doing and continuing to do.

FullSizeRender (3)

Until next time,

Emma x

Let’s Catch Up: Tenerife

IMG_3719

So yeah, *that* happened! My friend Abbie and I booked a holiday to Tenerife 5 days before we went. I’ve never done anything so spontaneous – and I’m so glad we did!

We arrived in Tenerife on a Monday night (after a cheeky bit of prosecco on the plane) and left Friday afternoon in the last week of April. So three whole days. On the Wednesday we went to Siam Park, allegedly the world’s number 1 waterpark (according to TripAdvisor), but the Tuesday and Thursday were spent topping up tans/burns and drinking Tequila Sunrises by the pool.

13133247_10153787387443051_3623356339359043214_n

The lady next to me on the flight out had the *cutest* baby in the world who didn’t cry for the whole flight. She also insisted we have this photo taken. When drinking at 34,000ft…

IMG_3721

This is the resort we stayed in. It’s the Santa Barbara Golf & Ocean Club, in San Miguel. The lobby was a bit like a palace with a big, sweeping staircase and chandeliers, and our room was like a proper apartment – it had a hallway! For a last minute deal working out at £40 each for the studio, we were seriously impressed. Plus the TV picked up BBC1, BBC2 and ITV, which meant we could be proper #BritsAbroad for the week. The resort itself is a bit remote, and getting to the Americas would’ve taken us a lengthy taxi ride which is something we didn’t really factor into our budgeting. We didn’t get to do much exploring of Tenerife because of that, which is a bit of a shame, but we were only after a bit of a breather away somewhere hot anyway so it suited us fine.

Siam Park was such a fun day out. I can see why it’s been ranked #1 in the world on TripAdvisor. Walking up to the top of each ride we were treated to beautiful views of Tenerife, as well as walking amongst so many pretty flowers and plants to get there. The rides themselves were great too. My favourite was called the Vulcano – a ride with a huge drop into a dark, inclosed ‘toilet’ (you know the types of water ride I mean when I say that?) fitted with blue and white LED lights. So cool!

(As well as the rides, we spent ages in the mahoosive wave machine doing handstands and riding the waves because we’re children.)

IMG_3728

About two hours into our first day I became the sunburn queen. This was a tiny part of the damage post-Siam Park. It hurt a loooot more than I’m letting on. Aftersun everywha.

I’m gonna pitch you a scenario now. You’ve just spent the whole day having loads of fun at this crazy waterpark. What do you do with your evening? A few glasses of wine over dinner and a walk along the beach? Venture into the Americas and dance the night away?

…do any of your scenarios end with an MJ tribute act, three big glasses of Sangria and a bit of a secret sick at 3am? No?

…mine neither…ha ha ha…

To round off the lovely holiday we did the typical ‘white girl on Instagram’ thing of taking incredibly candid, impromptu photos that we definitely didn’t spend all week arranging in our heads. Where did you get THAT idea from?

FullSizeRender

Until next time,

Emma x

Let’s Catch Up: Dorset

Seeing as I’ve been terrible at filling you in on the adventures I’ve been going on (and giving as excuses for my lack of online presence), I’m beginning a new mini-series called Let’s Catch Up. Any post you see with ‘Let’s Catch Up’ in the title – well, from now on assume that any ‘Let’s Catch Up’ post will be about something I did weeks beforehand.

I’m shit, I know. But anyway, I digress.

*****

Following the passing of my lovely Dad at the end of last year, my Mum decided it would be a nice idea to go on a family holiday to ‘get away’ from the confines of our house and hometown. It made sense – Dad is everywhere in the furniture and his belongings, and we’re surrounded by supportive friends and family who are always happy to help. It’s lovely, but I wouldn’t say the idea of a holiday wasn’t a good one.

So. Now we could travel – Eurostar? Ferry? A plane? For the first time (in my lifetime, at least) we could enjoy a family holiday somewhere hot, if we wanted to. The world was our oyster.

IMG_3611.JPG

…we ended up in Dorset, specifically in pursuit of the famous monkey sanctuary Monkey World. Mum and Dad had spent a lot of nights on the sofa watching telly together in his last few years, as it’s something they could enjoy together, and Monkey Life (a docu-series following the lives of the apes and their carers at Monkey World) was one of their favourites.

A lovely sentiment, actually. We had a really nice relaxing weekend.

First things first, our accomodation for the weekend. We stayed in a great B&B called Fingle Bridge, in the village of Wool – its owners Liz and Colin were so thoughtful and chatty, cooked an amazing Full English every morning and their house is beautiful! Our room was stocked with everything we could’ve possibly needed and the beds were so comfy. So that was nice.

After a hectic drive down on Friday night – my personal highlight of which include the sat nav taking us through the stupidly windy streets in the centre of Bath, which we later discovered were completely unnecessary as we came home via the motorway – we decided to visit Monkey World on the Saturday, and venture into Lulworth on the Sunday before driving home.

IMG_3614.JPG

This cheeky chimp is Rodders – the star of the show! He loved showing us his blanket and red bucket.

So, Saturday. Monkey World is such a delight. There are so many different species of ape – most of which I had never heard of before – all with their own unique names and personalities. We only attended the Chimpanzee talk of all the talks on, but you could tell that the staff really do love their jobs and care about the monkeys. There’s also a lemur enclosure on sight which pleased me GREATLY (love a lemur, I do) and we got to hear them laughing at each other! They laughed. Every time I mimic this laugh to my Mum she cracks up.

I learned a lot too. Did you know the ape most likely to rule the world is the Orangutan, according to a keeper we got chatting to, because they’ve got Sherlock-like observation skills? One managed to pick a lock with a piece of metal which he kept hidden in his cheek away from his keepers! Houdini, move over.*

Saturday night was a bog standard affair of eating Indian takeaway and watching Britain’s Got Talent in the B&B. Standard, really.

IMG_3638.JPG

The castle was full of memorabilia, despite having been engulfed in a fire early last century. This was the servent’s kitchen, down in the basement – I love noseying around this sort of thing.

On Sunday morning we headed first to Lulworth Castle, where we explored the grounds and got up to the roof to see the beautiful Dorset countryside. So many rolling fields and blue skies for miles! A short walk from the castle we found a church in which we lit a candle for Dad, which was nice too.

Just before leaving Dorset we managed to squeeze in lunch and a wander round Lulworth Cove, where we walked up the cliffs and could see the island of Portland from the top. My enthusiastic ‘like Portland Bill!’s were not met with nearly enough excitement. We bought some clotted cream fudge and salted caramel, as is customary from any British seaside holiday, and were on our way.

All in all, a ‘first’ ticked off our list that wasn’t so traumatic. I’ve got more little trips and events to update you on – I’ve been a bit of a busy bee – so I hope you’ve enjoyed the first of many!

Until next time,

Emma x