So long 2015; its been a blast

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It seems fitting that as we move into a new year I take the opportunity to reignite my blog with a refection on the last 12 months. I have to say, I am quite sad to see the back of 2015 – it has filled my life with some fantastic opportunities and amazing memories.

Firstly, I have travelled more than i ever had before. I ended 2014 in Amsterdam, followed by a trip to Egypt a week later where I went diving with sharks on the Brothers Islands.

Then, in March i went to New York with my niece – i love, love, love this city and it was amazing to fly in a helicopter over the bright lights, watch another show on Broadway and finally go ice-skating in central park.

May saw my first experience of Eurovision and boy did I love it. I went my a friend from work, it was an impromptu trip but we managed to squeeze in sightseeing in 2 cities and a night at the Song contest too. We’ve already booked our tickets for Sweden in 2016!

In June I finally went away with the hubby (and another 20 friends) on our annual summer diving holiday to Hurghada, Egypt. I love spending time in this place with the people i now call my friends. We’ve already booked our return summer trip for 2016 too.

There was a short 3 weeks break and i was out of the country again, in July, with a once in a lifetime opportunity to the Maldives. This place was absolute paradise and it was here I got to swim with sharks, turtles and a whole horde of giant manta rays. I was literally speechless for most of the holiday and anyone who knows me, knows this is unheard of!

The next trip was a work related one, and I travelled to Changsha in the Hunan province of China. China is a country that I would never have chosen to visit but the experience really opened my eyes and I really enjoyed finding out about the Chinese culture, meeting staff and students studying at the University there and finding out more about life on the other side of the world to me.

I then travelled to Vegas a week later with another work mate and I have to say, this was one of the highlights of my year. We took a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and landed on the side of the Colorado river for a champagne picnic. This was one place on my bucket list but it was somewhere I never expected to want to come back to, but its safe to say that I will be making a return visit one day in the future. There’s still half a strip to explore and even more shopping to be done!

It was really nice to spend Christmas at home this year, after all the travelling, I was definitely looking forward to a rest, but I’ve already got itchy feet and am looking at holidays for the later half of 2016 – I most definitely have the travelling bug!

So, its fair to say that 2015 has taken me far and wide, to places I have never been before and to places I definitely want to visit again. It hasn’t all been bright lights, big cities,  fun and games. There have been days Ive cried and days I’ve been so mad and couldn’t wait for it to end. But I know that I am so lucky to be experiencing the life I have, the opportunities I have been given are not for everyone and I know that.

I didn’t actually manage to stick to any of the goals I set myself in 2015 – I was 2 books short of reading 52 this year, so Im not counting that as a complete fail – but do you know what, I actually don’t care about the goals I haven’t achieved, because I know that I have had one hell of a year with the people I love, doing the things I love, and I am so lucky to be ending the year saying so long 2015; its been a blast.

 

New York City, baby!!

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Us in Central Park - just after the proposal <3

Us in Central Park – just after the proposal 

Those who know me know I am obsessed with New York. I absolutely love, love, love the city. I get all emotional just thinking about it.

I can’t remember how old I was when I first realised I just had to go, but I know its all I spoke about during University. So, when I finally managed to convince Steve it was about time we went, to say I was excited, well it actually was the biggest understatement of the century. We decided to go just after New Year; our flights were booked for January 3rd – perfectly planned for ice-skating in central park and of course, the January sales.

I started my countdown early, 10 months, 9 months 30days, 8months – you get the idea. Absolutely every single one of my Facebook friends were fuming with me by the time we went. I’m surprised no one actually told me to give it a rest!

Anyway, I had the trip planned to a tee. We had a full-blown itinerary. There was not a chance I was wasting one single moment in the city. I was making the most out of every second there.

I’d booked tickets up the Empire State (day) and Top of the Rocks, (night) trip to the Statue of Liberty, a 4-hour Sex and the City tour complete with free cupcakes, visit to the sex shop and time for a quick jaunt into Marc Jacobs and Jimmy Choo on Bleaker Street. We also managed to squeeze in a ride around central park, dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant Maze, followed by tickets to see the Lion King on Broadway. And, of course, there was time scheduled for shopping.

Now, even I didn’t think that this trip could get any better – I’d been to Tiffany’s and got my necklace (we also nipped the toilets whilst we were there, as you do, and well, even the restrooms sparkled!) I’d visited the New York public Library (the inner geek in me just had to) and I’d filled my boots with pizza, pancakes and cupcakes until I felt as sick as a dog… But, well, it did in fact get much, much better…

On our second to last day we went to central park. And that was where the 2nd best moment of my life happened; Steve got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Now, I am a girl of a lot of words, but all I could manage was ‘oh my god, oh my god.’ I did eventually get out a yes! I was over the moon.

That whole day past in a bit of a whirlwind and it wasn’t really until I got back home that it hit me – bloody hell, not only was I engaged, but I was engaged in New York City baby!!!

For better; for worse?

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This weekend I went jet skiing for the first time in 2014 and I have to admit, I totally forgot how much i enjoyed it. There is nothing better than whizzing across the sea, feeling the wind in your hair and being miles away (well sometimes just a few hundred meters, but its enough!) from the rest of the world and the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

It was last summer when my husband text me saying “wife, I’ve bought you a jetski!” Not your everyday text – but still a pleasant one all the same. As you can imagine I was eager to get out on the water. Having only ever been on a jetski once in my life before, of course I insisted I was a pro and jumped on without hesitation. (Although Steve did insist on giving me a full on watercraft instructor course before hand, typically of him!)

Surprisingly, I actually managed to glide around the bay we were skiing on quite successfully, I even managed to do it without falling off! Steve was the proud husband taking photos and videos of his skillful wife, until of course, the inevitable happened… CRASH, BANG, WIFE…

The only thing i could say that evening was, well husband; love of my life, apple of my eye… we did say for better or for worse. Looks like you’re stuck with me! 🙂

The one where it all began

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This coming weekend my husband and I will be celebrating our very first wedding anniversary (how fast has that flown?) and it got me thinking about where it all began…

First I need to take you right back in time to a day in my sixth form when we were sent to the library to work on our personal statement and start filling in our UCAS forms.

At the time (though recently this has been queried as to whether it was a scam – but that’s a whole other story for another time) you had to pay to apply through UCAS – it was £5 for one University and £15 for 2 or more, up to a maximum of 6. Me, being the savvy spender that I am (ha!) decided that I wanted value for money – so although I only wanted to apply for 5 University’s, out of principle I was going to apply for 6 – to get my money’s worth of course! I spent the next 30 minutes scrolling through the UCAS list at the other University’s that offered the course that I wanted to study. Pretty far up the list I came to Aberystwyth but due to my lack of ability at the time to pronounce it I moved swiftly on. The next interesting place I came across was Bangor. I had no idea where Bangor was, if it was a town or a city or that it was actually in Wales – but trusted google filled me in on the fact that it was a small city in north wales, close to Anglesey. That’ll do, University number 6 – application sent.

And that was that. Who would have thought that I would end up picking Bangor as my first choice later down the application stage, or that I would end up loving the place so much I decided to stay, get married and have 3 ducks!

Now, I am known to leave things to the very last minute – but I very rarely miss a deadline. So when I read that anyone who applies to halls before the end of June is guaranteed a place, I didn’t really see what the rush was. I spent hours looking over all the halls I could stay in and picking my top three. As you know, I have a bit of a fear of public toilets so that last thing I wanted was a shared bathroom and of course I needed a hall of residence with internet – I mean who doesn’t just love a cosy night in on msn messenger. (We are going back a fair few years remember; when myspace was the Facebook!)

Anyways, as it turns out there was a rush, as rooms are allocated on a first come, first preference basis – so to say I was devastated when I discovered that my halls not only did not have an en-suite, they also had no internet was the biggest understatement of the century. I literally cried for days and at one point, may have even refused to go to University full stop. Hindsight however it a wonderful thing – as actually applying late (but within the deadline might I add!) was the best thing that ever could have happened…not only did I meet some of my very best friends (even now) in those halls – I also met the man who would become my husband and best friend.

Skipping forward to the first day on University – I literally cried when I arrived and realised that my halls of residence was at the top of the biggest hill you have ever seen – it was literally vertical. Then I saw the halls and they were not the modern ones that they show you in the prospectus at all…it was a real life nightmare.

My family quickly moved into gear and transformed my dull box room into something that resembled comfort and we left to explore the place. When we returned I met Steve – the guy who would live down the hall from me and he was drinking out of a large Winnie the Pooh mug. Of course, that was the first thing that we conversed about – Me: I like your cup, it’s awesome. Him: I got it from Matalan earlier – they had loads of different ones. Me: cool, I’ll have to get one!* It was the dumbest conversation i’d ever had!

Later on after waving goodbye to my tribe I wandered down the corridor and asked Steve what course he was on and he said marine biology – I was like ‘woah that’s cool, ive always wanted to learn how to dive.’ Or words to that affect.

Now, I have absolutely no idea why I said this, as if truth be told – I had never, ever in my life had a desire to learn how to dive – I wasn’t much of a fan of water, like i even hated getting my face wet in the shower. But as fate would have it, of course the next thing he said was ‘well, you’re in luck, I’m actually a dive instructor – here’s my card, I can teach you if you want?’

Well, shit a brick – there was definitely no getting out of this now. So I did what any respectable 18 year old girl who had said something in order to impress someone that was completely untrue, would do… I ran to my window and yelled to my mum, “I’m going to learn how to dive!!”

And there you have it, the one where it all began!

*I should add that 2 days later I opened my kitchen cupboard door and Steve had in fact gone to Matalan and bought me my own Winnie the Pooh mug – he bought me piglet as that was who he thought I was most like (such a sweetie eh!!)

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Q&A with an newly-wed!

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As a recent newlywed, the first question lots of people have asked when seeing me (after the obligatory, ‘how was the honeymoon?’ question has been; “how does it feel to be married, have things changed?” Now, at first, i started saying it feels exactly the same, but i was met with the reply of “ooh give it time, you’ll see.” So i decided to change tact and give a simple reply of “yeah, its good.” Problem with that is then people expect you to divulge into specifics about what is good and what exactly has changed, and thats when it becomes more difficult to answer.

So, over these recent weeks i decided that i was going to prepare an answer for the next time i am asked. This got me thinking. How does it actually feel to be married, and has anything actually changed?

What surprised me the most, was that when i actually started thinking about this properly, i realised that things did feel slightly different, and some things, had in fact, changed.

For a start, the husband was actually being a lot nicer to me than he used to be – for those of you who know me, you will understand what i mean, but for those of you who don’t – let me explain: I am not saying he was a horrible person and now he is not – its kinda just those little (almost romantic) things that i have noticed he has started doing – like saying ‘goodnight wife, love you’ – whereas before i used to get ‘night Maudo’ which was affectionate, but hardly romantic.

The other thing i have noticed is that people do treat you differently once they realise you are married. it’s hard to explain but i see them looking at my ring, back at me and i can almost hear them saying in their head ‘gosh she doesnt look old enough to be married’ or ‘hmmmm interesting’. If im being honest, i never know how to react to the either reaction so i have taken to smiling and going a funny shade of pink!

The most common question ive been asked so far though (and of course, the most controversial) is ‘are you changing your name?’ At the moment i explain that i havent as i am flying to Africa in 10 days and need my passport to match my name, but once that is over and done with then i probably will. This has been met with mixed reactions. Some people ask ‘ooh are you delaying it because you dont want to change it’ or ‘oooh how does steve feel about that.’ Others tell me i dont have to change my name at all. All these views i can appreciate, but I will be changing my name on my documents once i get back…

I mean, it’s not like it isn’t official now already – It’s changed on Facebook, how much more official can you get?!

It’ll be alright on the night (and day – i hope!!!)

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So, it turns out that inbetween working full time, planning a hen night and a wedding, attending various parties (I am after all a social butterfly!) and trying to spend some quality time with my husband to be, there isnt much time to blog. This proved problematic considering my plan was to blog through the run up to the wedding. It is very clear to see that this plan was very short lived…

But now it is now official, I am married, and i have worn my manolos. ❤ they are beautiful but they hurt my feet. (for hurt read killed.)

I have to say though, the wedding day was awesome, and went way too quickly. 😦  I know that i am biased, as it was my wedding, but it was just perfect – partly due to the people invited, but also due to all my hard work before hand (i joke – well a little; it was definitely NOT steve’s as it took him forever to order the suits!!)

I have to say a massive thank you to my family and friends who all worked their ass’ off planning and making things for the day. It really was appreciated, and all came together perfectly.

So now thats all over, the only thing left for me to conquer is the mountain….

Well, isnt this going to be fun.

I like to pretend im prepared, but im not. I dont like camping and i hate public toilets, never mind being faced with no toilet. I like to shower in private and i love my tempur mattress. So i can see now, exactly how my 10 days up a mountain are going to go.

Putting all that to one side (it pains me to do so) i am mega excited. Not only do i get to see a beautiful landscape, and meet a whole now bunch of people; i get the opportunity to go to a school that has received funding from the charity i am climbing for and see exactly how the fundraising money is spent and how much it means to the staff and children at the school.

I think for me this is going to be an adventure of a lifetime and hopefully it will make me a better person because of it.

So, with 3 weeks to go, i am doing exactly what you would expect someone to do who is taking on the world’s largest free standing mountain – eating a pile of takeaway and unheatlhy food, and doing no exercise what so ever…

OOPS.

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Wedding Woes, Hens and Ducks

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Today I have discovered that the most stressful part of planning a wedding is planning the hen night. Traditionally this is done by your bridesmaids, and to be fair to both by bridesmaids, sisters and friends, they have all helped where they can and offered to plan the night, but 1. i am a little bit of a control freak with these types of things, and 2. i have uni friends, welsh friends, work friends, friends from high school, etc and, well they aren’t all in the same country as each other, let alone the same vicinity, so, for simplicity, i decided the easiest thing to do was organise it myself!

Now, i am regretting this decision…(although the control freak in me begs to differ!)

Firstly i hate asking people for money, and although so far this hasnt been too bad it still pains me to do it!

Secondly, I am probably not the best at organising these types of things. So what could go wrong?

Well, i booked everyone a room in the travelodge, miscounted the number of rooms i needed and now the rooms are £85. I cannot believe it. I am in a rage! I am also now £85 lighter than what i was this morning, so bye, bye the jack wills dress i had my eye on!

Moving swifty on…The second most stressful thing about planning a wedding is your husband to be. If he is anything like mine, although he is very excited to get married, he doesnt quite understand what “you need to book a fitting for a suit for you and your best man (or men in our case) and you need to do it NOW!!‘” actually means! And so with only a few weeks to go, we still have no wedding suit for the grooms party. (I am hoping this very subtle hint changes this fact at some point in the not to distant future.)

To be honest though, its not all doom and gloom. Picking the wedding rings, designing the cake, youtubing church hymns to see which ones sound the best, and actually realising how many friends you have who want to share your day with you, has all been really nice and something that I will treasure for ever!

What I guess i am trying say is that, for all the stress and headaches that getting married causes, it is actually one of the most exciting things i have ever done (i mean, i would hope that it is assumed from the off that this is the case, but you do hear some horror stories about couple splitting up before they even make it down the aisle!) Although i know it is not for everyone, if im being honest, it is something that i had always imagined i would do but never really thought that much about what planning a wedding would be like. (I mean between all the talking i do, i didnt really have that much time to think about it!)

Anyways, as we are drawing nearer everything is starting to come together and there are only a few more things left to plan…The biggest worry on my mind now, is, whilst we are all at the wedding, WHO IS GOING TO LOOK AFTER THE DUCKS!!!

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