Hello everyone, welcome to my last post of 2015! Does that sound crazy to you because I can't quite get my head round how fast this year has gone, and looking through these pictures on my Instagram has made me so nostalgic.
These photos taken from one of my favourite places in the UK, Belfast. An enchanting place reflecting the city's past, present and future. I travelled to Dublin last year and I was adamant that I was going to make another trip to this beautiful island soon, and so on my 20th birthday I took my Mum on a weekend away to a place we both haven't visited...
Being January we knew the weather was going to be unpredictable, we didn't however expect snow but my gosh what a difference it made! On one of our day trips we were on a coach travelling along the north east coast of Ireland and I was taken back by how picturesque it's coastline is, one minute we were amongst the green moors and the next we were stuck in a blizzard in the mountains surrounded by deep snow and frozen lakes- simply gorgeous! I'll never forget me and Mum going down to the Giants Causeway in the pouring rain trying to take a decent picture (it was certainly tricky to do!).
Someday I will return to this beautiful city, the homeland of my favourite band Snow Patrol- so I can see me returning for a gig sometime in the future (eeek!). The people are friendly, generous and full of knowledge that they were happy to share. It wasn't just a pleasure trip but a time to bond with my Mum and to learn about a new place, and this is one of my goals I have achieved in 2015- travelling to a new destination!
An old past time of mine is visiting London and attending a west end show and of course I couldn't let 2015 slip by without me going to at least one, well I managed more...
My Auntie Claire, Mum and I booked up to see a Beatles tribute band at the Garrick Theatre. A great show, wonderful costumes, our favourite songs and an energetic audience participation- all the elements that make a great show! The thrill I get from visiting London is never ending, I only wish I could go more often because there is far too much to explore in just one day even for those who visit often and that's why it's so brilliant in my eyes- you're never going to explore it all! It's full of hidden places that are waiting to be uncovered and it's always fun to go with friends who know places and share them with you. Talking of friends, my online presence has gained an overwhelming amount of new friends. To me whether they're online or not it doesn't matter, I think online friends are underestimated. Anyhow I want to share with you someone who I call a best friend, Sarah. Sarah I met through blogging, I'm not sure who commented on who's blog first but we've become close and we've even sent letters and book post to one another!
A fresh look on my blog has been apparent for some time now, but the way in which I've developed as a blogger is something I'm quite proud of. I've grown my blog into something quite beautiful; discovering new friends, recommended new books, actually being sent ARC's for review by publishers and taking part in Twitter chats that have opened up my eyes to a community I never thought existed.
I'm forever thankful for anyone who visits my blog, whether we talk or not doesn't matter. The fact you've taken the time to read, comment, share etc is just amazing and I appreciate all the love you share.
I read The Catcher In The Rye by J.D Salinger this year and currently it's my favourite book of all time, I think this could be down to being at the right age and point in my life where it's relevance meant a lot to me. I felt that from the character Holden I was finally understood, the transition into adulthood is a scary one but funnily enough this book helped me a lot in accepting this (although I will forever love Disney, nothing is taking that away from me haha!).
A faithful friend of mine, Mollie who I will always treasure in my heart whether I see her often or not is my rock in life. We've had ups and down's but I know that as we progress through life and amongst our own adventure's, we're always going to make time for each other. At times I have doubted this but I shouldn't, we spend such happy memories together including our time in Spain this year. Every time we take off somewhere it's always a laugh and it's a wonderful feeling to share these times with close friends and I hope we can continue these mini trips abroad and at home together, because there's nothing like a best friend. Reading 'Beautiful Broken Things' later on in the year made me realise just how important these friendships can be, and how it's vital to maintain them because no matter what you might think, you need someone just as much as they need someone too.
Like with my Mum, me and Mollie enjoy our days out in London. So this year I took Mollie to see Matilda, a hilarious musical that made me reminisce about reading the book as a child- I could quite easily see myself as Matilda haha (although probably not as intelligent!). Ziggy (that big hairy cat that has cropped up in most of these pictures) turned four this year, to think that is insane. I remember her being so tiny I could pick her up with one hand and re-enact the Lion King's opening scene, now I struggle to pick her up with both hands- chubby kitty! Do you find that with your pets you confined in them a lot? I go off on a ramble to Ziggy and she tends to just stare at me, turn over and sleep or nudge me with her head, but either way I look to her for great comfort. If we hadn't got Ziggy I would have been tempted to buy myself more guinea pigs, I mean pets can give you so much love when our human companions don't. They rely on us, and it's lovely to have that responsibility and duty of care.
Now, something unexpected happened this year. I met someone online, and he goes by the name of 'my boyfriend'- excuse me what? Was this in the 2015 plan of things to achieve? Nope, it most certainly wasn't and if anything it's changed me a great deal these past four months...
I met Aaron on an app (nothing seedy I promise haha) and to cut a long stories short he was someone who stood out to me, at the time I hadn't actually seen his face. The bizarre attraction was how well he spoke (or typed haha) that didn't require 'lol' or 'init' and from that point on we got to know each other and within a short amount of time, we met up in London and spent all day at the Natural History museum- hello the perfect date ever! He's my first boyfriend that I've openly spoken about to my friends and family which to me was a big deal. He asked me on the 5th August "so are you my girlfriend now?" a sentence I certainly never thought I would hear to come out of a boys mouth, and obviously I said in my ever so awkward manner "if you want me to be then yes", I know I'm such a crease when it comes to romance I really am! So four months down the line we've met up several times and I hope we continue to do so in the New Year, I'm not counting my chickens but even with the ups and down's of living apart I've never been so happy. Beforehand, I hadn't really felt I wanted to commit to a relationship. Not because I'm a player or anything like that but purely because I've never really felt this about somebody else, the certainty of it all. I've always liked the thought of a relationship don't get me wrong, but I guess I have been waiting for the right person. If I could give any guidance to you all it would be to never rush love, or what you think is love. Embrace it as it comes, it may come later than you want it to but it will I promise you (totally not just saying this) it will arrive and smack a great big smile on your face! Don't hurry natural occurrences because they're likely to not work out the way you hope, take your time, go at your own pace and do what will make you happy- none of this pleasing others all the time rubbish, you're just as important!
From Belfast to Hever, I like my history a lot and Hever is most definitely one of my favourite historical homes. Set in the beautiful Kent countryside, not a grand but a warm and welcoming castle surrounded by a moat and various mazes it truly is like going back in time. I've visited many historical houses but this one certainly is a favourite of mine!
You're probably 'awwing' at the pups in the above pictures hehe, well let me introduce you to my Uncle's new addition- Dotty (bottom row middle photo), she was so wee when I first got to visit her and so envious of where my Uncle lives in Somerset. It's a place in the west country that I hold dear to my heart, if someone were to ask me where I want to go for a few days then Somerset would definitely be my answer. It's so tranquil and I feel so at ease there, I would quite happily live there if I had a decent amount of money (future goals right there haha!).
Another big 'life event' so to speak happened this year in October and some of you already know that I've started studying towards a degree with the Open University (OU) and I've just finished my first term. To give a bit of history, back in 2013 I quitted my brick university- it simply wasn't for me or I wasn't ready. Nonetheless, 2014 was a hard year of trying to work out what I wanted to do with my life and what career aspect I was hoping to aim for. Now I'm adamant I would like to pursue a career in publishing, I've opted to do an 'open degree' (see website for more details here) where I'm going to be concentrating on English literature, so far it's amazing and by far the best decision I've ever made. I'm ending the year with three 1sts and a 2:1 mark so I'm thrilled and proud of myself for taking this big leap in sorting out my life, I'm trying to absorb everything I'm learning on this course and I'm pleased to say that studying at home has proven to enhance my motivational skills. I'm focussed and excited to obtain this degree, it means so much to me and I couldn't be more thankful to be given a second chance at gaining this higher education.
I will be updating you all throughout my three/four years with the OU on how I'm getting on and any relevant information that you have asked me to explain- again thank you for all your support on this it means a lot!
The Autumnal season is my favourite of the year, the changing colour of the leaves, the expectations of Christmas and the coming year and the wonderful photos I get to take on my camera. Some here taken from St Paul's Cathedral and locally to me, Whitsable Castle. I always find this time of the year is where I begin to think of how thankful I am for the opportunities I've been given, in 2015 I've been given a bundle full. Reviewing new and pre-releases of books is something I never thought I would be doing this time last year, I'm in awe of how far I've come from reviewing the books I owned to being sent books to be released in 2016- that's mad! For all the opportunities I've been given and the publishers who have offered me such opportunities I want to thank you for giving me the push I needed, and of giving me a new goal of wanting to apply for work experience at a publishing house in 2016 to give me a real insight into the industry. I'm excited to apply and hopefully take a new turn in my forthcoming aspirations!
Bringing out the fan girl in me, this month Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released and of course I got to view it on it's release day! I'm not just a book loving girl but a huge fan of sci-fi films, and I must confess that being a Jedi would be great but I'd love to be part of the Resistance fighters flying around and shooting down the enemy and just to be able to say "red leader standing by" into a headset (yes I've definitely pretended to do this- don't judge!).
A new genre of books I'm wanting to try out in 2016 are graphic novels/comics, I've always wanted to read some but I've never checked some out properly and actually knowing where to start- so feel free to recommend! They look like great fun to read and also a way to get myself out of a reading slump, I want to avoid them in 2016 for definite because my TBR is beyond control right now ahhh!
Here we have the last few photos I'm sharing with you from 2015, a year I'm never going to forget and be grateful for. So much has happened in such a short space of time, I'm in a relationship, I'm studying towards a degree and I'm on track to moving into a career I'm passionate about and that's thanks to a great number of supportive people like you of people reading this right now! Thank you for your ever growing support, I can't thank you enough just know that I will always appreciate it.No way did I see myself in the situation I am now, I'm happy and ready to tackle 2016 and all that it throws at me... I wish you all a very Happy and prosperous New Year of 2016! Hugs and 2016 love,