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Why is 2015 in such a hurry ey? Maybe it’s because I am planning a wedding and so hyper-aware of the days left to get my bum in gear and organise things are speeding past in a blur of well… doing everything but organising things. I just can’t believe that it’s mid February, that the days are getting long and that things in April (like my next dress fitting) suddenly seem uncomfortably close rather than dark distant days!

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I feel like this gorgeous Hello Dodo tee-shirt sums up my general life-vibe lately. Bear with me; I’m trying my best to be good and enthused about all the things but occasionally I just have to take a day like today where I sack every thing and everyone off and am still in my PJs at 4pm, intending to make the most active thing I do changing into a fresh pair when bedtime rolls around. Anyway! I am really keen to share with you a really neat thing I did in London lately. My friend Ianthe writes for the BA High Life in-flight magazine and got in touch a few weekends ago to see if Nick & I wanted to accompany her, along with some of Nick’s other uni buddies, to a “locked room mystery”. A few Googles later and I realised that there a craze sweeping well… the world, which London is actually a little late to the scene on. The craze actually started in 2007, when in Japan there was a sweep of turning simple point and click computer games into a physical challenge, that took place in a locked room. The participant would only be able to leave the room once the challenge had been successfully completed. This soon became so popular that the trend was picked up and soon “escape the room” adventures were popping up across Asia, Australia and Europe.

So, this led to me finishing an uneventful work Monday in January and making my way to an anonymous looking door in the city, near Bank station. The first challenge was to locate the entrance to Escape Hunt; the only signage being a small logo next to the doorbell. After plummeting 3 flights of stairs into the bowels of London, we were met by an enthusiastic lady dressed as a sort of sexy Sherlock Holmes (!) who introduced herself to us as our Games Master. We were pretty swiftly taken to a door and the process of what lay ahead of us was explained. The building contained various themed mysteries; our mystery to crack that night was the called “The Artists Bedroom”. In the bedroom we would fine an artist had been brutally murdered; and we would have exactly one hour from the second we entered the room to work through various codes, clues and puzzles in order to solve the crime. For the duration of the hour, our Games Master would be watching us on CCTV. If at any point we got stuck; we could phone her for a clue. However! This was discouraged because every time we phoned for help; we would lose a minute from the countdown clock. If at any point she felt like we were taking too long, she could phone us with a hint to keep us on track. We deposited all of our worldly belongings in a locker outside and were quickly hustled into a small infra-red lit room and the door slammed with an electronic click. We were totally locked in and we needed to get a wriggle on to escape…

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In case you are planning to take part in Escape Hunt I won’t give too many spoilers about the mystery itself, because that’s obviously the best bit. Once in the room, there were various different types of tasks; from reading music, to maths, to word games to picking up on subtle clues within the room. We also had to basically turn everything within the four walls upside down in order to find keys, padlocks, hidden laminated hints and NOTHING was what it seemed (for example an innocuous looking wardrobe ended up being a door into an Alice in Wonderland style set of smaller and smaller rooms beyond it). The main theme, cheesy as it is, was team work. We quickly figured out that unless we organised who was focussing on what and where, we didn’t have a hope of getting past the first hurdle. It’s also unbelievable how quickly an hour can flit past once you are racing against the clock. In the end, we had to phone ole sexy Sherlock three times for a helping hand, and she phoned us once… and we cracked the crime with 7 minutes to spare! Afterwards we got to celebrate by a) being freed from our locked room prison and b) dressing up in tweed and posing at a photo-booth with various Baker Street appropriate props.

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I cannot recommend Escape Hunt enough. It brings every childhood Crystal Maze fantasy to life! (Except not getting to go in the glass box and grab gold and silver tokens, wah) It was SO much fun! There seem to be endless iterations of escape adventures popping up across the capital at the moment, with Hint Hunt  and Clue Quest amongst them. I’ve chatted to colleagues who have been to other versions and I feel like perhaps the other companies might be a little slicker; with more maths/code based tech-y type challenges. I’m not going to lie; ours was pretty hammy! And the theme was definitely steeped in detective stories, clues and observation skills; which I’d definitely prefer over anything too tech based. The Sherlock stuff and the very low budget props in the room definitely made it clear that the money had gone into the CCTV set up, central location and working out the room riddles themselves. I guess it’s down to preference; so do a bit of research of what’s available where before you buy your tickets. That said, we found the slightly low-budget-ness really charming and a good ice breaker once locked into a teeny tiny room as a group of five. There really wasn’t much I would have changed about the experience; and we were all completely high on it afterwards! It was so rare to be that focussed on something for an entire hour; with the worries of work, life and London completely vanished. In such an intense environment, with a team relying on you, it was impossible to let your mind wonder. I’m already obsessed with taking as many different groups of friends as possible; as it’s such a good alternative to a night down the pub or an expensive dinner somewhere. I also feel competitive with my former self already, and desperate to get back in a locked room in an attempt to get out of it in a quicker time. One final thing to note is that ironically, I am quite claustrophobic (can’t go in lifts, but totally fine in tubes – to give you an idea of the size of my triggers) therefore the concept of being locked in a tiny room had my heart pit-pattering. That said, as I mentioned in my 2015 resolutions, I am trying to keep my anxiety in check and was determined not to let it stop me taking part in something that sounded so fun. As it turned out, the Games Master was SO understanding and gave me a couple of reassurances such as the fact she was watching the whole time and I could just wave to the camera to be let out. So if small spaces give you the fear, don’t let it put you off this amazing experience!

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What else has been occurring? Last weekend I zoomed up north to catch up with my friends and family, and take a bit of a London brain-break. I spent the Saturday in Leeds with my mum. I lived in Leeds for 5 years, so was amazed that she could show me something that had remained a completely hidden treasure the whole time I was resident there; luckily after a bit of research I realised it had only opened once I had left the city, so feel a bit less sad about the missed opportunities to while away some hours there. This most marvellous marvel is the Leeds Art Gallery Cafe and it’s certainly one of the most beautiful spaces I have ever seen, including every where I have visited on my world travel tour. It was originally a Victorian reading room for Leeds library, but fell into disrepair. In 2007 a huge project saw the hideous 60s shelving torn down and the tiled room restored to its former glory. There are wall to wall green decorative tiles, huge marble arches, gold globed roof detailing and floor to ceiling windows letting in beautiful light shafts. It’s honestly breath taking when you step foot inside, and worth going just to see in person. That said, the tea and cakes (and the company) were pretty great too.

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I slept at Becca’s house on the Saturday night. Myself and her other two bridesmaids drank pink wine and ate noodles and nattered away until we realised it had gone 2am. The next day I had a slightly hazy cross-Yorkshire mission to get to visit another friend, Annette, so Becca drew me a handy map to get me on my way. Please note her use of the word snicket which is such a Bradfordism that I am proud to say I haven’t let London knock out of me.

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This weekend was Valentines Day and although we hadn’t planned to do anything ~special~; actually one of the most romantic things we could do happened. We went to the town hall and gave our official Notice of Marriage. Nick had been saying all week that he thought we’d be separated and interrogated and asked hard Mr & Mrs style questions about each other. I was shaking my head and saying that sounded like something he’d seen in a movie and would definitely not happened. But sure enough, we made our way to the registrars room and within a couple of minutes had sent me packing to a chair outside whilst Nick had to give my occupation, full name and date of birth. Phewf! We had to switch up and then I did the same. Even though I knew all the answers, I found myself stuttering and stumbling because it felt like an oral GCSE exam or something pesky like that. Luckily we passed with flying colours (actual quote!) and we are now legally set to become an actual real life grown up married couple. Wow! This got us into the Valentines spirit so we decided to celebrate “Kanken-tines Day” instead (previous love letter to Kankens HERE) and head to one of our favourite little nooks of East London – The Brokedown Palace where we picked up some new Fjall Raven Joy. I also got myself the most amazing pair of socks that I have refused to remove since. After years of Primarks finest, I never new socks could feel this way! Toasty, cosy and the perfect temperature, I feel like I might have spoilt me feet for ever and might need to throw away every other pair I own.

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Sometimes you have years that just slope by lazily, without much changing from one end to the next. Then you get those years where your life feels unrecognisable from the point that the bells struck midnight at the start, to the point where you tuck into the Christmas tree chocolates at the end. This has without a doubt been one of those years for me, in fact it’s been the biggest year of my entire life. On the first day of 2014 I woke up in Panama City. I was half way through 6 months of backpacking, starting in South America and taking in 16 countries through Central America up to the USA. I’d already seen and experienced so much; but felt like I still had so much left to go. Due to being on the opposite side of the world as the year started, I had no idea how the rest of it would unfold. Where I’d be living, what job I’d have or what my life would look like in any way. I certainly had NO idea I’d be planning a wedding! Being a total control freak; the concept of having so little idea or handle on my future is something that would have used to terrify my. But that’s what I mean when I say it’s been the biggest year of my life; travelling taught me so much about my personality and boundaries and lifestyle that basically meant I came back a different (better!) version of me.

Anyway! I could ramble on about my ~feelings~ and ~journey~ for hours but I’m guessing anyone reading this is doing it through a Baileys or mulled-something haze (if not, why not?) so I’m going to keep it simple, and just list some of the big events of this year that I most likely failed to blog about as I have been way more active over on our travel blog Twentysomething Burnouts. I’ll try and keep them in chronological order!

Why are you calling me Beyonce? I said FIANCEE!

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On the 25th January, not long into the shiny new year, Nick asked me to marry him (read all about it). We were enjoying a couple of weeks holiday from travelling (I know, how sickening) on the Corn Islands off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. We’d had a lovely meal, then strolled to a secluded beach that we had visited earlier in the day. It was just as beautiful at night. The air was balmy, the sea smelt incredible, and we sat snuggled up doing some star gazing. And then… it happened! Although it’s obviously something we had nattered about here and there, I had rationalised that there was no way Nick could bring a ring with him, so in my head I had completely parked the idea of any proposal speculation. It’s the first time in my life I have been fully speechless (until I yelled YES!) He couldn’t have asked at a more perfect time in our lives and trip. Having spent every minute of every day for the 4 months prior; and supporting each other through close-encounters with scorpions, death defying boat rides, teeny tin-can aeroplanes and 32 hour bus journeys with no air con OR toilets… we certainly knew each other well enough to be confident we can take on anything else in our forever future. We get married in September 2015 and so far I’ve done a bit of planning… and a LOT of obsessively watching Don’t Tell The Bride as research.

A friendly face in deepest, darkest Guatemala

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If I started writing about every highlight of our travels, it would go on for a hundred years and basically be Twentysomething Burnouts. If I started writing about every highlight with a certain Craig Heathcote in 2014, it would also go on for a hundred years. Therefore I will try to keep this section short and sweet! When we had initially announced our travel plans we had tons of people say they’d come out and see us at various points. Obviously then things like real life, work, holiday allowance and penny pinching get in the way; but despite all of those things Craig stuck to his guns and managed to wrangle over a week to join us out in the midst of Guatemala, a place I doubt would have been on his top holiday locations otherwise (to put it in context his mum kept asking, “Where are you going again? Guantanamo?” !)

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By the time February rolled around, I have to be honest and admit that we were slightly waning. We had been travelling at absolute breakneck speed in order to see all of Latin America in a tiny space of time; and sticking mostly to overland travel. Two detours had held us up; the first being an excursion to the Galapagas (yay), the second being Nick’s terrifying back injury in Colombia so as we trucked through into Central America we were racing against time to get to Guatemala in time for our date with a VIP. We hadn’t had basics like hot water for 5 months. We were SHARING a pair of socks. We had gone a month without soap. Everything we were carrying around stank, had holes in it and was bleached with too much DEET contact. We were obviously still loving our adventure, but were fraying around the edges and this meant that Craig’s arrival was exactly what we needed! He arrived with a giant My Little Pony tote bag (soz Craig) that my sister and he had packed full of clean clothes, British treats and stuff to make us smell better. He had magical things like new music – we had been sharing 2 ipods with a total of about 80 songs for months. He had new news from home, updates on all our friends and just a totally different outlook on life. It was so special! You can read all about our actual adventures here and here. Those 10 days are an absolute highlight of our entire trip. Big beers, breath-taking views and places that constantly 1-up’ed each other, wild swimming, late night jungle nattering and being zoomed about in the back of a 4×4. Oh and the time a monkey threw a rock at Craig’s head (and luckily missed!)

Here we go again London

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We were moving to Brighton, then we weren’t. We were done with London, then we weren’t. I wrote all about it here and despite all my previous grumbles with life in the big smoke, I’ve had such a fantastic time since moving back and am so happy that a few twists and turns of fate bought us back here… for now!

It’s my job to read books!

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On the night we landed back in England, I couldn’t sleep. I had a serious case of reverse culture-shock, and a bigger case of jet lagging. Despite the fact I’d planned to avoid any semblance of job hunting for a few weeks of family time, it was 3am and I couldn’t sleep so I thought I’d just take a peek at the jobs on the market. I am so happy I did, because it’s then that I spotted the job advert for a role doing digital and social media bits at Penguin Random House; so after 6 months of not working or even thinking about work I had to attempt to pull together a convincing cover letter and update my CV. As a lifelong bookworm, it’s my dream job. I’m so lucky to work with so many inspiring people and just felt at home from my first day, it’s a very special company indeed and whilst there are challenging moments, it’s made life after travelling a lot easier to stomach. Plus, overtime is… reading! Who can complain about that?

Craigfest

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We had only been home for a month or so when our Craig turned 30! And luckily for all his friends, he did it in serious style. We rented out a beautiful venue in Dorset (um I think…my southern geography is so dire) for a couple of nights. There were bands (including Chime Hours), dancing, ping pong, walks in the beautiful grounds, bonfire, marshmallow toasting and all bunking down in dorms with lots of chattering late into the night/morning. And not even the British weather could dampen the party!

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Not such a Twentysomething Burnout anymore

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I turned 30 in May, officially hanging up my right to call myself a twentysomething burnout. I wrote about it here da da DAAAAAAA, but have come to the conclusion that the hype, fear and build up to 30 is so much worse than actually being 30 itself. In fact being 30 is absolutely no different to being 29, funnily enough! I was a total spoilt brat and milked my birthday for months. I am lucky enough that my eldest sibling Meg is my decade twin, and turned 40 this year. This meant we could throw a party for all of our friends, which Meg masterminded and did all the hard work on whilst I was still backpacking about; an amazing present in itself. The party was 80s Vs 90s movie themed… which sounds niche but it was amazing how inventive our lovely guests were. We had Ghostbusters… The Craft witches, Blue Brothers, Tank Girl, Marty McFly, Edward Scissorhands, THE TITANIC (!), Indiana Jones, When Harry Met Sally, Alien, Leon, Addams Family, Waynes World…. so many more. Meg and I took it in turns on our playlist with an hour of 80s, then an hour of 90s, and back again. I felt so fortunate to all my amazing friends who travelled from up and down the country to croon along to en vogue. The night ended strictly at 1am when the venue turned off the PA. But would we stop partying? No! And so my fondest memory is everyone insisting on screeching their own 90s hits super loudly until we were politely asked to leave… singing “this could be a case for Mald-ah and Scah-lly” at the top of our voices.

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Nick indulged (without TOO much persuasion) my wish to go as Sarah and the Goblin King from Labyrinth, my all time favourite childhood movie. I bought an 80s wedding dress from eBay and he ordered a “Sam Fox” wig from Amazon. He even did an amazing hypnotic dance with the crystal ball in front of everyone. I think he really embraced a bit of Bowie! A super special memory from this year was that after the party we were staying at Meg & Eds, which was just a 15 minutes walk down the river from the venue. Having had a few G&Ts, I decided we may as well just walk despite the time. So I walked in my full on HUGE wedding dress, holding 10 helium silver star balloons, through central London at 1am. Everyone we passed obviously thought we had just got married (I really hope Nick doesn’t take that as a hint to don his Goblin King costume at the wedding for real) and we had people shouting congratulations, asking to take photos and taxis beeping their horns. It was a balmy night, and town seemed to be full of just friendly, well wishing passer bys.

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Yorkshire Day

In the summer I had some holiday days to use up which coincided with YORKSHIRE DAY, the most wonderful day of the year! It was a great excuse to head up north and spend a week quality time with Lol, which I never get to do. We did lots of dancing, watching Ru Pauls Drag race, perfecting or telepathicness to the point of being too lazy to talk out loud, running round giant Asda, making nachos, eating nachos and gallivanting around the moors in the rain.

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End of Cougar Season

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In November Nick caught me up and turned 30. We went to Paris for a long weekend of real animals and skeleton animals (and eating lots of cheese) you can read about it over here and here. I also went on lovely trips to Exmoor, Sweden and Ghent, so haven’t really had too much time to get the post travel blues.

I am still stupid at 30

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Just so this isn’t a boring blog of humble brag-ish boasting (ugh I hope not) I am still monumentally bad at functioning in life. I have had 2 trips to A&E this year, an infected horsefly bite oh… and lets not forget the time I managed to drop a pint glass on my eye from a great height – I was bending down snuffling about in the fridge and knocked it off the side straight onto my eyeball. Cue black eye for a week that gradually turned into a purple eye, a green eye and then a yellow eye.

This has been such a lovely post to write, it’s been so fun reliving the best bits and remembering just how crazy this year has been. I’ve focussed on the ups here, because they are the nice bits to re-live rather than being a moaning minnie. However that isn’t to say there haven’t been downs. It’s been a really hard year in a lot of ways. My battle with the ombudsman over my messed up surgery in 2012 has cast a shadow, as has the fact I will need surgery again (wah) and the pain I still have pretty much most days on some level. A lot of my friends have had tough years and it hurts me to watch the people I love go through rough stuff; even though they are all handling it in really inspiring, impressive ways and it’s usually me wailing away rather than them! I guess this is just to acknowledge the fact that whilst the year on the surface can look pretty perfect, it’s definitely been a huge learning curve in so many ways and I’ve been trying really hard to get better at coping with my anxiety and being a worry wart. Thanks for reading the blog this year, and whilst I haven’t updated as much as I’d like, I can’t wait to tap away over the Christmas break some more.

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Anyone who follows me on Goodreads or who has scoured my book review posts will know that I’m very predictable in what it takes to pique my bookworm interest. A big spooky house, unexplained goings-ons, eerie family curses and perhaps an apparition or two to boot. Little did I know that I had just this in real-life form, and under a mile from my family home in Yorkshire. My dad is a local historian and had been researching various local heroes from Bradford’s industrial glory days such as Lister, and perhaps the more widely known Titus Salt, and it was through this that the story of Milner Field was told…

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Milner Filed was commissioned to be the family home of Titus Salt Jnr (youngest son of Sir Titus Salt) and built in 1869 to the plans of decadent architect Thomas Harris. No expense was spared in the building of Milner Field; and it would certainly have been one of the most opulent mansions in the north of England at it’s time; which is clear from the fact it received royal visitors twice. Amongst many unusual luxuries the house had an orangery, vast glasshouses filled with tropical plants imported from around the world and a boating lake. Keen to show off their wealth and home, the family would host huge parties with absolutely no expense spared. Unfortunately, the house may have looked set to provide its owners an idyllic life, but this wasn’t the case. Titus Salt Jnr died unexpectedly young, leaving the house to be passed on to a new family; that of James Roberts. Upon moving into the house bad luck dogged him and his family. His eldest son died of pneumonia, his youngest son drowned, his second son died of an unexplained illness and his remaining son was badly injured in the great war. On top of this – whilst his daughter Alice successfully married, she was then unfaithful and her high profile husband murdered her lover, causing a national scandal. Poor Roberts ey? The final occupant of Milner Field was quickly dispatched of by the curse, in perhaps the worst way yet! As a result of a nasty infection of the diaphragm he hiccoughed to death!

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As a result of the endless misfortune heaped upon owners who resided in Milner Field, paired with the fact that these rambling grand houses were falling out of fashion given the vast amount of staff needed to maintain them, by the war it was near impossible to sell the property. Despite various attempts and glossy sales pamphlets being created, the house sat empty and eventually fell to rack and ruin. Local children in 1940’s and 50’s recall playing in the roofless mansion as children; which must have been an incredible playground given that all the rooms were still intact. It was at this time that local newspapers reported various tales from visitors to Milner Fields of apparitions being sited amongst the ruins; the most commonly known story being that of an Edwardian man dressed in green carrying a flute! In the 50’s, with health & safety being sited as the reason (although perhaps it was more likely that the council was getting spooked by all the stories!) Milner Field was demolished and flattened. Isn’t it an incredible story? That within the space of less than a century, one of the grandest houses ever to be built in England could be set upon with dynamite and diggers and left to rot in the moss.

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The above photos are taken from Milner Field; The Lost House of Titus Salt Jnr which I’ve had my nose permanently shoved in on my staycation up north this week. The photo just above gives you a glimpse of the change from Milner Hall as it was, to how it is now. On the blue skied, beautiful Bank Holiday Monday; my dad, Nick and I headed off to Saltaire to explore. As we entered the woods in which Milner Field sits, we weaved our way up a winding mile of driveway. I could almost taste the previous anticipation of those privileged to be invited to stay with Titus Salt Jnr when the house was in its hey day.

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If you just stumbled across the site of Milner Field, you could be forgiven for writing it off as a pile of old rubble and moving along. However having my dad as a guide, he could point out that two large pieces of stone that we walked between would actually have been the two pillars attached to a grand archway at the entrance to the house. It’s with this eye that you can suddenly look around yourself and with a bit of imagination, envisage the house as it once must have been. The ruins sit very isolated in a patch of woodland, as over the last 60 years nature has taken Milner Field in its clutches. It’s definitely not a place I’d feel comfortable being on my own, I’m not sure if it’s the fact it’s steeped in bad fortune but there is a definite atmosphere that has the hairs on the back of your neck prickling at every crack of a tree branch or wind that picks up around you!

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This spooky sensation didn’t put me off having a little solo pirouette in what would have been the grand ballroom. In the close up, you can see that parts of the floor are still present and covered in a beautiful mosaic. In the book I read about one incredible party in-particular for Isabel Roberts “coming out” 19th birthday party which was fancy dress and attended by the creme de la creme of society at the time; royalty, film stars and local business directors. Apparently Japanese lanterns were shipped in and strung around the ceiling, and an obscene amount of port was ordered! I shut my eyes and imagined all of those bodies packed into the space around me, and wondered what an earth happened to them all after this snapshot in time.

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Nick & had a good clamber over the rubble (cursing my footwear, £4 brogues are not adventures shoes) and had a kiss where the kitchen would have been. Upon closer investigation to the hunks of remaining stone, you can see that the odd one has ornate carving or moulding and it’s worth trying to work out where it might have fitted in the house.

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The most recognisable area of Milner Field left standing is the entrance to the cellars that would have stretched the whole length of the house. I wonder how many brave bodies have wormed their way inside and scampered around? If it hadn’t been filled with stagnant rain water and litter, I think Nick might have been tempted.

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If you find yourself in Yorkshire I can’t recommend a visit here enough. It’s one of those rare treasures that passes by word of mouth and won’t be in any rough guide or tourist information brochure…

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Ok! I’m going rogue, and rather than my usual non genre ramblings this is going to be the closest I get to a fashion and beauty blog. I don’t know how you choose what to spend the pay day pennies on but I am so heavily influenced by the blogs I read. From nail varnish colours to tee-shirts to boots, I very rarely use anything except the fashionable folk I follow and read about to inspire my new purchases. I think I prefer to see things on a real life normal-sized girl (not an air-bushed sultry model) and get the real truth on how things fit so I know in advance whether to size up or down. The bloggers who have influenced me most recently are Rosie, Carrie, Kristabel & Vixpo with me making direct purchases after seeing items on their blogs! Obviously not everything is infuenced by blogs or I’d look like some weird stalker hodgepodge of other people, and my style is certainly unique and quirky (in both the best and worst ways!), so everything else is bought by the standard scrolling through ASOS or braving mega Topshop/markets & vintage when I have some shopping stamina.

I’ve really enjoyed wearing this outfit lately so here are a few details about what makes it such a hit. The reason I don’t usually post outfit photos is that I can’t stand still for long enough therefore I resemble fuzzy felt, as demonstrated below, and I also don’t have anywhere nice to take photos. These were taken in my parents house with beautiful Victorian wallpaper and chintzy 70s carpets for a backdrop.

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Blouse: Primark

Pink Knit: Zara

Owl Brooch: Ladybird Likes

Jeans: Topshop Indigo Leigh

Lace-up Boots: Primark

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I’m such a peter pan collar addict, and the combination with the sheer fabric and polka dot stitching meant I couldn’t resist this Primark blouse and have worn it practically every day since just switching what knitwear goes over it. The only downside is, WOW THE STATIC! You can’t expect the highest quality garment when you pay £8 but I also didn’t expect to turn into a walking lightening conductor. The shocks I give myself and others are so massive they make my stomach reel a bit afterwards. This hasn’t put me off though, just made me a bit more evil as I store up the static power and use them on meanies who shove me getting on the tube in rush hour. I really love this owl brooch because his chubby little face absolutely looks like he’s thinking “wtf am I doing on this sweater?”. Finally, I think I first saw these boots in black over on the very fashionable French for Cupcake (Claire)’s blog and they instantly solved my autumn woe of “but I live in brogues… what do I do with my feet when it gets cold and puddle-y?” so they are quite the outit staple as they look neat with dresses or jeans. Although, if worn for too long they appear to make my right foot go to sleep which isn’t ideal.

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Earrings – Accessorize

Nail Varnish Grey Day, Gun Grey & Blizzard Models Own

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I had an identical pair of earrings to these but the first night I kissed Nick (and we’ll end that story right there, nosey!) I lost one and have searched high and low ever since but never seen anything similar. I thought that ship had sailed and given up the replacement hunt, and have actually barely worn earrings since. Then on Friday I was skulking about in Kings Cross with time to kill as my train had been cancelled. Rather than rage about it, I headed to Accessorize to lurk amongst the gems and jewels and saw these straight away. The bee ring is actually the most I have ever spent on a ring (£26..) as I am so prone to lose them. I always take rings off when I wash my hands and so every ring I ever buy ends up being abandoned on a sink edge and promptly passing on to a new strangers finger. After 6 months, in typical form I have lost this bee 3 times, but always found it again (under my bed, pocket lining & under my work keyboard) so hopefully it’ll never leave me for long.

The one bit of outfit information that I shouldn’t gloss over is the fact that despite looks, this outfit is NOT warm! It may appear cosy but the jumper has a thousand holes as it’s sort of crocheted and the blouse is sleeveless. So hidden beneath is a Uniqlo heat-tech cami and a pair of  Fat Face thermal socks, fighting the battle to stave off goosebumps and stopping my chattery teeth.

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& Now the beauty bit. Aren’t eyebrows weird? You can’t think about them too much or you realise how un-symmetrical and caterpillar like they are, but I’ve recently learnt that keeping them in check is a very worthwhile face-investment. I am a total make-up dunce and stick to my very unadventurous ritual of liquid eyeliner and Bad Lash mascara and nothing more (although you wouldn’t believe it if you saw the giant make up bag of stuff I carry around just in case. Blue Barry M eye pigment that I last wore in sixth form college – just in case! Very questionable glittery eyeshadow that explodes EVERYWHERE BUT your eyes and makes my face look like a disco ball –just in case! etc etc) So for me to even think about adding something to my 2-minute morning beauty routine is a big deal. I need anything new to be fool-proof, quick and not look make-up-y.

I recently was picking up some new Bad Lash in Benefit when one of the (always so friendly!) staff asked me if I had tried Brow Zings and I said no. The name alone terrified me. But she gave me a demonstration and they have since changed my life (well, face). I’ve done a little before and after photograph above so you can see. My au-natural eyebrow is a bit of a patchy mess, especially given that when I was 16 I had it pierced. I was quite lucky/unlucky that being the third daughter in my family my parents were sightly over rules when it came to me and so I was the first person in my friendship group to get a wacky facial piercing and thought I was just biggest deal upon doing so. I remember getting the bus home from the piercing studio and everyone I passed looking at me. I sat there basking in the admiring glances, thinking about how alternative and bad ass I was, enjoying the constant… staring… until I got home and my mum politely pointed out it might have more to do with the blood oozing down my face, than the mega dope piercing. I am very fortunate that despite spending two years in a growing-out-getting-it-repierced-(what was I thinking?!)-cycle the scar really isn’t too prominent.

Anyway back to the wonder of Brow Zings! It’s a little case with one side wax and one side powder, and you use an angelled brush (worth getting advise on the right shape for your particular brow, oh and the right colour to match your hair) you dab the brush in the wax and powder a few times and then brush on. It’s so subtle that you don’t risk creating a Jennifer Connelly in Labyrinth by mistake and can keep brushing and brushing until it looks neat and just… instant better! I would highly recommend Brow Zings and have been given NO encouragement by Benefit to spread the word (the gushing is all real) They are available in Benefit stores where someone helpful can give you a demonstration or online here.

 

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This time last week I thought I would be in London this weekend, pottering around a market or watching Django Unchained and zooming about on the tube. Actually, I am back home in Yorkshire! During the week I spoke to my Mum and had a sudden urge to pay her a post-birthday visit. I started scrabbling through the pages of my already-scrappy 2013 paper diary and with a heady combination of Morocco holiday, NY & LA working weeks, a 30th, an engagement party and two hen do’s (suddenly realising that I am so that age!) I wouldn’t have been able to get back to Yorkshire until April at the earliest, so quickly booked myself a ticket for this weekend and here I am.

It is never a hardship for me to come back home. I’m fortunate enough to remain extremely close to my parents so any real-life time (rather than Skype time) is always much appreciated and only a 3 hour train ride away. I also still get massively homesick for the village, the city, the country and the NORTH that I grew up in and feel like I breathe easier the second I walk through the door to the home I have lived in my whole life. I’m sure nowadays it’s quite unusual to have only had one family home and I appreciate that I’m very fortunate to still be able to bluster in full of London stories and tense work shoulder stresses and dump myself on the sofa and be in the first and only proper home I have ever known. Now that I visit at the age of 28, being well and truly moved out for approaching a decade, it’s sometimes almost like going to a museum of memories. In every part of every room I have existed as a baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager… and sometimes the ghosts of yourself in days gone past creep upon you when you least expect it. I’m a nostalgia sucker anyway and constantly pick the scabs of good and sad times gone by, but the anonymity and scale of London makes it far easier to avoid triggers of past times and constantly recreate yourself and your life. Once you are back in a land of everything familiar and covered in layer after layer of people and moments and heartaches and experiences it’s like opening the floodgates to everything that’s ever happened to you.

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So I seem to have transformed myself into a SNOW HUNTER! This time last week my whole weekend revolved around snow, and this weekend… despite London swooning away in positively balmy sunshine, I have been back out in the snow as about 7 inches fell overnight here. It was my mum who suggested taking the sledge (!) so we bundled up with some serious knitwear (and showing her increased intelligence, my mum opted for waterproofs too, whereas I typically had to slope home with a soggy bottom and jeans dripping in thawing snow). The amazing thing about this snow day was the bright blue sky overhead. I’ve got used to the claustrophobic low mushroomy London sky this week, so it felt like we were somewhere far more exotic and piste-like than Bradford. The snow was so incredibly deep that my first attempt at sledging involved me sitting on the snow, moving about a foot, and then sinking. Clearly my weekly 5k run/pilates/swimming regime has not shifted enough of those Christmas pounds yet!  We had to adopt a very scientific approach to creating a proper sledge route which involved compacting the snow down with our wellies and then sledging over and over again until it was super-speedy and slick. I am definitely a far worse driver than my mum though, as I kept nosediving into snow banks and twice the sledge stopped and I carried on going, getting some classy derrière friction burning.

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We even tried once going down together in the sledge and recreating Cool Runnings. Luckily there weren’t too many people around to see two fully grown women trying to fit onto a tiny piece of plastic and whooping down the hill! Can you see how hideous my wellies are? They are bright neon pink with yellow Mr-Blobby spots and I can very clearly remember buying them when I was 15, so its a good job my feet haven’t grown. That’s another thing I love about my family home, there’s always the odd old item around for emergency weather. After haring up and down our sledge track for a good half an hour, I was scampering about like an idiot and DROPPED my iPhone in the snow! The snow was so deep that it instantly covered the spot where my phone had fallen in, like a vortex. I am ashamed to say that I think I reacted with the speed and fear of a parent who’s child has just fallen in a lake or something! I dove head first and dug dug dug until I found my (white – helpful) phone and ripped the cover off, trying to get the melting snow to stop creeping into all the nooks and electricity ports. After giving it a big wipe with my jumper and blowing on it a bit,  it miraculously seems completely fine? I am aware that after 5 minutes buried in melting snow this should not be the case… so really hope that in a few days it doesn’t die a death, but its charging away and sending messages and happily posting my 1000th photo to instagram, so perhaps I got really lucky.

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As we were leaving there was a mum with two toddlers setting about a sledging session herself, and I was really tempted to point out to her that she could very well still be doing this in her sixties with her grown up kids if she was anything like us! Considering I had no idea or plans to be here this weekend, it’s definitely turned into a memory I’ll always treasure and never forget. I better go retrieve my clothes that are drying in various places all over the house and go get an afternoon bath (such a guilty pleasure) and attempt to finish my current book. I’m reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern which fits well and truly into the modern fairy tale genre that am a total fiend for (if you haven’t read any I’d recommend Of Bee’s & Mist, The Man Who Rained & The Snow Child). Sometimes a book comes along that just captures your attention and heart immediately, and The Night Circus is definitely one of them for me. The writing style is incredibly evocative and uses every sense to ensure you feel that you not just reading about the circus, but that you’re actually a part of it too. It so vivid that I’ve had three dreams about being at the circus from the book now, and quite like the way it’s dominating my sub concious slumbering (way more fun than dreaming about keynote presentations and VFX job jargon). I’ll be quite sad when I finish the book but I have to stop dawdling as I am falling way behind in my pesky 51 book challenge.

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Happy New Year!

Yesterday Nick & I toasted goodbye to a crummy 2012 with a very uncrummy New Years Eve. We were home alone (rare and precious in itself) and the night consisted of the deepest bath with Matey pirate bubbles, a huge bowl of nachos with my homemade green chilli salsa, a Moon & Moonrise kingdom double bill and Moscow gin mules that turned into whiskey mules when we discovered we’d finished off the gin ages ago and it was an empty giant Gordons bottle I’d been too lazy/ashamed to recycle. I woke up this morning to the sun streaming in and pulled on my leopard print Pat Butcher coat and tottered off across North London to be reunited with my magic third Ali (dedicated blog readers may remember her from adventures such as this & this), who has abandoned me and Craig to live in Winnipeg, Canada where she is taking the art world by storm. It’s great for her but less great for us, as Magic 2 just doesn’t have the same ring to it however hard we try. So far 2013 is already massively telling 2012 to jog on!

Anyway where was I..? I can’t really get on with this year before finishing off my big re-cap of the past year, and talking of magic 3 day trips, that segues nicely into summer…

July

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As all UK-dwellers know, the summer was absolutely rubbish weather-wise. I heaved out all my garish printed sun dresses and strappy tops, only to shiver away in anything less than at least a cardi and jeans combo and eventually admit defeat and sullenly packing them all away again in October mostly unworn. However in true magical style Craig & I plucked a day at random and got super lucky as the storm clouds dissolved and gave us a jolly seaside jaunt. This year we headed to escaped to Reculver. In classic us-style (eg similar scrape to getting stuck on the London eye) our hire car was great on the motorway, but less great at er, reversing. In fact it could NOT reverse. We didn’t imagine this to be a problem as we figured we could just park in spaces you could pull forward out of etc. Then we arrived somewhere near Reculver, near enough to see the famous fort mocking us from a distance, so came off the motorway and  started driving along winding rural roads and narrowing paths. Eventually we drove down a dirt farm path for about quarter of a mile before hitting a locked gate. On one side of the path was a sheer drop and the other… the motorway hidden by a few brambles. We had no phone signal, it was pouring with rain and we honestly thought we were going to have to abandon the car and spend the day grovelling to Zipcar. Luckily though with a huge tug the car eventually played nicely and went into reverse so we could gingerly inch back to a main road and back on adventure-track. It never would reverse again afterwards though so it was a miracle!

We pulled into Reculver, which was a lot smaller than we expected, and the rain was hammering down. Rushing into the local pub for shelter, we experienced one of the scariest welcoming committees ever. It was a bit like being in the League of Gentleman, as silence and staring descended amongst the ferocious locals propping the bar up and we were greeted by a waiter who would only sit us at a tiny table hidden in the back and kept rushing us to finish our cup of tea as the “lunchtime rush” was about to start (it was 2pm and there was about 30 tables reserved for this phantom rush already). The only inhabited table was being used by a woman so old that her wrinkles covered up most of her facial features and she spent the entire 20 terrified minutes we were in there glowering at me whilst drinking 2 large glasses of red wine. SO! Safe to say we scuttled out of there very quickly but luckily the storm had moved out to sea which looked phenomenal from dry land. The fort ruins are said to be haunted by the waling of a crying baby (despite reading endless Susan Hill this somehow still appealed to me!) but all we heard was the whistling wind that day. We strolled the beach and didn’t see a single other person, which was lovely and meant we could take some unashamed jumping photos with only a ghost baby to worry about looking silly in front of.

July

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After a few hours we decided to drive down the coast to Herne Bay where the sun blazed, the sea roared and we ate salt soaked chips on the pebbles. I would highly recommend a day trip there, as even the slightly ramshackle bandstand, ‘Eels on Wheels’ seafood stand and peeling pastel painted houses are very charming. We were sorry not to be staying overnight to take in the sights & sounds of the New York New York nightclub…! Added to the gorgeous stealth sunshine, another delight was catching a brass band on the bandstand. We were sat in candy striped deck chairs as they played classic numbers, eyes shut and dozey from the sea air, when all of a sudden they burst into the Jurassic Park theme! That was definitely one of my best moments of 2012.

August

August

The Olympics fortnight was the most exciting time I have ever experienced living in London. Living here is electric and exciting most of the time, but for the 2012 Olympic games it just crackled with energy and colour and positivity and everything you would wish for (and more!). I had tried and failed to get tickets for any sporting event, but to be honest without even stepping foot in the Olympic village I still feel like I had the best experience possible. For working days we had a huge TV set up with everyone gathered round shouting and clutching each other and bellowing when medals were won. For the rest, Hyde Park became my second home. I watched so many events on the huge screen there, including the photo above where Andy Murray won gold. The atmosphere was so happy and welcoming, even if the woodchip flooring did not agree with bare legs and long periods of sitting. I also attended the spine tingling closing ceremony where the sun shone and The Specials played, followed by a killer (could be their last ever) set by Blur and all day I was surrounded by my second family (Lol and her parents and her parents friends) plus Nick, plus Craig, as we pulled MoBots in every photograph. I went to see the torch be carried down Regents Street, I drank cider and cried my way during the opening ceremony, I wore official 2012 games sweatbands, I got ahead of the games and walked to work every day and I spotted athletes from almost every country. I’ll never regret living in London at that time, and how truly privileged I was to be a tiny part of it all. I’ve never been prouder to be British… or from Yorkshire as we clambered up the medals table.

September

September

In September I packed up my long abandoned wellies and headed to the  Larmer Tree Gardens in North Dorset for End of the Road festival. I haven’t been to a festival in the UK since the apocalyptic Worstival (Bestival) of 2008, instead opting for weather foolproof options such as Sonar. Nick and his family/friends are annual End of the Road attendees however and not wanting to miss out/be parted I decided to take the plunge and go. Luckily the weather was pretty solid, just a few splatters of rain and one unseasonally freezing chattery teeth tent nights sleep. I have been to lots of festivals (Leeds, Reading, V, Bestival, ATPx3, Latitude, Field Day, Wireless and loads more I probably drank too much smuggled in gin to remember) as I have been going to UK summer festivals since I was 14. However End of the Road definitely wins my prize for best fest. It was the perfect number of people,so felt intimate and you never had to queue for a (very clean) portaloo. The festival is set in beautiful woodlands, and has a real enchanted fairytale vibe. My favourite memories were dancing until 2am in the light-up dancefloor disco deep in the forest, eating the best pulled pork burrito of my life (actually 3 over the course of the festival), kissing Nick under the swaying fairylights, dressing as a cowgirl, the amazing line up with highlights of Grizzly Bear, The Antlers, Beach House, John Grant & First Aid Kit. Oh and the secret Futureheads a cappella gig.

October

October

Short & sweet as October basically didn’t happen for me, as I covered here in rubbishtober. If it wasn’t happening in a hospital, doctors surgery, operating theatre or my bedroom prison, then I wasn’t there. I still dressed up for Halloween though…

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November

November

I saw this on the day before I left my re-cooperating parents house in Yorkshire to head back to London and real post-op life. We were on our way to watch Skyfall, which was amazing, and for me to treat them to their first ever Nandos. I took it as a sign of great things to come and a fresh start, although to be honest I haven’t recovered as quickly as I expected. My operation was complicated and long and I still have struggles if I do quite standard things like lift a heavy bag or stand up too long or push myself too far too fast. My doctors think realistically it will be January 22nd before I am ‘recovered’ and realistically later until I am a robo-fixed-better version of myself. So November was a month of frustratingly taking it slow and steady to win the race.

December

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In December I could finally step up my game and enjoy some London festivities, such as Winter Wonderland where Nick & I supped mulled cider and scampered around the Magical Ice Kingdom of ice sculptures where they even had an ice SLIDE and an ice unicorn. We drank in the carousel bar, and ate piping hot churros, and above all – despite our final destination health year – we risked a go on the ice skating and didn’t fall over once! In fact we helped other people to not fall over.

Writing this has made me realise that there were hundreds of tiny glimmers of hope and fun this/last year even if it was tough going. I can’t even begin to write about them all or mention all the sparkly people involved, but I am a very lucky girl and cannot wait to get stuck into 2013. (And write about it more)

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I can’t believe how quickly this year has sped by. My new year’s resolution was to take a photo every day and I stuck to it, which has made it so much easier when trying to cast my mulled-wine pickled brain back over the year to recap what I got up to; as I certainly wasn’t blogging about it. Sorry! It’s been a pretty grim year, one that makes you grit your teeth and fear answering the phone as you know it will be another piece of bad news. Sadly this has continued right into the festive season and so I’ll be very relieved tonight to toast the end of a rotten apple year and the start of 2013 which can surely only be better. That said though, I think it’s all too easy to write off a bad year and in fact there have been some sparkly moments of wonderful wanderings, experiences and memories that I wouldn’t swap for anything.

This turned into such an epic beast that I am blogging it in two parts, the first being January – June.

January

January

This was a walk that Nick & I took up Malham Cove with my parents. If you ever find yourself in Yorkshire then Malham is my absolute favourite place to visit and my top recommendation. Looking up at the cove itself  will leave you breathless and feeling very tiny indeed. We were so fortunate with the weather, as despite deep snow for miles around, the treacherous 400 stone steps that take you up to the top of the 260 foot cliff face were clear and could still be climbed in my £6 Primark brogues with no grips.

 February

February

One of the “how is this happening to me” moments that have peppered the most successful professional year in my career. Considering I still speak with such a broad Yorkshire accent I basically need subtitles, get ID’d every single time I purchase alcohol and still constantly get comments on my “quirky” fashion sense, I still struggle to remember I am actually a head of my own department and seem to be doing pretty well at this whole work thing. It feels like the 12 hour days are finally paying off (although maybe not for my health; see October) In February I was still working for a children’s media company and was invited to the Houses of Parliament to take part in a seminar on children’s welfare and charity work. It was such a privilege and something I know not many people will experience. I just wish I’d had more time to poke my nose around the incredible wooden chambers and rooms with vast ceilings and chandeliers. Instead I was ushered in for breakfast, where they had the most tempting looking Danish pastries but my stupid etiquette meant I was too embarrassed to eat one as they were too far for me to easily reach, so instead I just had to make do with a few bits of (extra posh) fruit salad and a super strong coffee.

 March

March

I didn’t go to many gigs this year because my main entertainment-indulgence money went on my monthly Cineworld card and spending hour after hour in the various West End cinemas (in total I saw 34 films this year!) Luckily it was quality over quantity and this gig, Future Islands at Scala, was my favourite. If you aren’t familiar with the band you should definitely download some, I’d recommend Before The Bridge, Inch of Dust and Balance. What I love about them is that the singer has this incredible theatrical voice but looks NOTHING like what you expect him to. He is probably the best showman I have ever encountered, as despite being at the end of a lengthy European tour he seemed to adore every moment, resulting in the audience storming the stage for the encore.

 April

April

The image sort of sums it up, but after 5 years working for the same company, I took a new job in April. It was scary as I had always worked in the same office, with the same people, for my whole London life but it was definitely what I needed and I haven’t regretted the decision once. The fact that regular trips to New York and Los Angeles are now part of my job kinda helps too!

 May

May

After a tequila-fuelled London celebration, Nick & I went to Dorset for an extended Birthday spoiling. There were so many highlights, but I think Swanage remains one of my favourite places in the UK. For many reasons (the beautiful twinkling lights as the sun sets, the boats in the harbour, the road into the sea, the ice cream and the beautiful Jurassic coastline) but mainly because we discovered Jurassic Park crazy golf there! Wildly flaunting a million copyright infringements this combination of two of my all-time favourite things (crazy golf + dinosaurs) was the perfect birthday present. We also went on a huge walk and spotted my first ever slow worm, which it turns out isn’t a snake but it still has a cool fork-y tongue.

 June


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I had been promising to go on holiday with my oldest school friend for about a decade but we’ve never had time or holiday budget that matched up. This year we finally got it together and after a few vetoed suggestions of destinations (Benidorm being one…) we settled on Ibiza. Given that I’m not exactly a clubber at the best of times, and that the music isn’t my cup of tea, I was a bit eye-rolly about the whole thing. The flight from Bradford to Ibiza isn’t one I’d want to repeat (just an aeroplane FULL of hammered northern men, 5 of whom were arrested before even leaving the airport!) but I enjoyed every second after that. We were away for the Jubilee weekend so decked our hotel balcony with chintzy union jack bunting and celebrated with carton after carton of 70cent Sangria.

June

We stayed in Bossa Park which is the ‘up and coming’ area according to our hotel manager and I definitely felt like it had a cooler vibe than the hen/stag saturated San Antonio side of the island. It was fun to chat to the people selling tickets on the street and haggling deals. On our first night we ended up buying from a Scottish guy who kept flipping between heavy Glaswegian accented English into perfectly fluent Spanish and who led us through a quiet civilised fancy restaurant down some stairs into the most heaving secret basement bar I’ve ever seen where everything glowed UV, we drank free cocktails and danced to Rihanna with the locals. I can’t remember the last time I felt so young, and so free. It was such a glorious four days with tons of sun lounger reading, playing beach ball in the pool and stocking up on our grimy B&B breakfast to make it last the whole day.

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The daytime highlight was definitely an afternoon at Café Mambo watching the sunset which is as phenomenal as everyone says and is definitely something everyone should see once in their life. The night-time highlight was seeing Tiesto at Pacha (still can’t believe those words are coming out of my mouth, in the same way I can’t believe I since downloaded that Tonight We Are Youuuung song as it was played every third song anywhere we went). The clubbing was so easy to throw yourself in to, and I barely drank (mainly because even a bottle of water is 8 euros) but you don’t need to as the atmosphere itself is contagious and totally electric. It was like being at a really good music festival as everyone is so happy and just enjoying the experience. It wasn’t at all what I expected and we ended up making tons of friends with waifs and strays from all over Europe. My favourite clubs were definitely Pacha, Ibiza Rocks (for the pool alone, which everyone was drunkenly chucking each other into – it reminded me of the bad donkey island in Pinocchio!) and Es Paradis which has a stunning interior and played my kind of music rather than the mwam mwam mwam of everywhere else. I definitely have the fabled Ibiza-bug and would go back in a heartbeat.

June 2

I couldn’t re-cap this year without featuring this image that will forever be burnt into my retina! This view from the heady heights of the London Eye, where myself and my dear Craig got stuck for nearly an hour! The jaunt started happily enough, with my ticket being a generous birthday gift and thoughtfully planned to take in the sunset on the longest day of the year. We scuttled down to South Bank, devoured a pizza and a bottle of rose wine and were actually a bit tipsy as we boarded the Eye. As our little pod climbed towards the sky, we shoved our noses up against the glass and oohed and ahhed and it was brilliant. Then, at the just-before-the-top slot, we stopped. After 20 minutes a few people started asking why we were stopped and I reassured them that it was totally normal and just to give us a ‘good view’ (! which actually on reflection makes no sense as then the wheel would never move) after 30 minutes I started to feel a bit antsy with that sinking feeling that something’s gone array and I am stuck 135 metres in the sky in a glass capsule.

I only have one fear, and its claustrophobia, so the next half an hour were a massive test of my ability to keep a gigantic panic attack at bay. It helped that I had Craig at my side so we just spotted landmarks and took in the incredible view and laughed about the fact that a) this type of this ALWAYS happens to us and b) at least we got our moneys worth. An unhelpful recorded message reassured us that “due to unforeseen circumstances your rotation had been terminated, do not panic & do not be alarmed” (!) and they cranked up the air con so much I had to huddle with the rest of the tourists in a borrowed woolly hat for warmth. Eventually we got moving again and we never did find out why we got stuck but I was certainly relieved to get my feet back on solid London ground again as I had been envisioning helicopter rescues.  I have definitely had my fill of the London Eye for life now. Never again! Not even in one of the swish champagne VIP pods.

 

 

 

 

 

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Normal service will resume shortly I promise. I went home, and had lots of adventures including seeing The Decemberists (definitely up there with one of the best gigs of my LIFE, and I hate audience participation!), saw my friends beautiful baby and didn’t make it cry once, sleepovers and sleeptalks with old friends, being faux French with Kerry, witnessing an 8 year old order a cappucino in Starbucks (!), dancing to Rhianna in 4 inch heels (something I do not do on any sort of regular basis), eating ice cream with a spoon in my friends car whilst spotting stars in the middle of a moor, pink wine and pink cupcakes and lots of fresh Yorkshire air.

I headed out on a countryside stroll with my mum, who ended up dragging me through tunnels, wading into rivers and teetering down cliff faces (ok, steep hills). She will now be forever known as action-mum…

Since I got back to London I’ve been feeling homesick. There’s something so soothing about walking walks you’ve done since you were a child and so many of my very best friends are there, that it’s hard not to do a bit of pining when I’m back hundreds of miles away from all that again. Then my grown up job exploded into chaos and I have worked so hard and so many hours this week I’ve burst a bloodvessel in my eye.

Hot stuff!

 

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I’ve escaped London for the rest of the week to hide at home in Yorkshire. Being a ratrace-face is starting to give me burn out so there was only one option, hit the woods and walk and walk until I was hopelessly lost.

 

 

 

As well as a good fish & chips and a good cup o’ tea, I really miss WOODS. Where are the woods in London? I don’t understand. There are plenty of good parks, yes I can vouch for that. Granted; there’s lovely heaths, there’s a pretty awesome river and riverbank. There’s boating lakes, there’s urban farms and there’s some super hills (Primrose Hill is the place I run to the second the sun puts its hat on). All these things are fine and dandy but I want treeeeees. I want dense fairy tale forest with moss and gnarled roots reaching for your feet as you wander through. I googled London Woods and it produced quite a lowely list of 15, most of which on further inspection contain the words small, former or previous and so I guess don’t actually really exist anymore. I think the best option looks to be Queens Wood particularly appreciating this line in the review …the wood has no park or playing fields but does sport a children’s adventure playground built on top of the plague pit. (!) so I might venture out there when I’m back in the smokey city.

 

 

To satisfy my lack of woodland woe I ventured out to Hardcastle Craggs near Hebden Bridge. I arrived at about 11am and it had been raining all morning, that constant drizzle that makes your face and hair all dewy. Luckily I was really protected by the canopy of new leaves for most of my walk so could just enjoy the beautiful freshgreen rainy smell and use it as an excuse to don my wellies and jump around in the river. It also meant I could take some photos without the sky giving my camera a shower. The walk was about two miles and I only bumped into two other people and a giddy spaniel! I saw lots of unseasonal robins, a tree-creeper, a dipper, a beautiful yellow wagtail and a bunch of ants eating bilberries. My favourite spot of all was this little chap. He looked extremely happy mooching along the damp bark.

I love the eerie mist that hangs around deep inside woods and the mysterious way that everywhere you look can shift and sway and look the same as the place you’ve just come from. I think everything can be put in perspective by getting deep down into nature and listening to the peace and quiet

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