Two weeks to go!

Two weeks today, I will be on a plane to Dublin and I can’t wait! There are so many reasons I am excited. The main being that I’ve never been to Ireland and that it’ll be 1st December, and the official countdown to Christmas will have begun.

My mother and myself decided early on that we needed a Christmas shopping day and we looked at getting the train to all different places; York, Manchester, Lincoln, Sheffield. We wanted to have a fun day somewhere new where we could how a lovely, big lunch and shop until we drop. It was then that I remembered seeing an offer for really cheap flights from our local airport to Ireland. Chancing it, I had a quick Google and was amazed. We could get a direct flight to Dublin at 7am and a return that evening for the whooping total of £19.98 each! So, of course, we booked it.

Since we are going to another country and have the entire day there, we’ve decided to make the most of it and tick off a few tourist-y bits and pieces too. In addition to our shopping extravaganza and embracing Dublin’s Christmas-y atmosphere, we’re also hitting the Old Jameson Distillery and a few other hot spots. If any of you have been before or have any tips for where to go, I’d be so grateful. Especially, if it’s any restaurant recommendations!

The countdown has begun now and I have my passport and debit card at the ready! I intend to eat, drink and be merry from the time I wake until I drop into my bed later that night. Bring on the 1st!!

 

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This isn’t how I thought my life would be.

I could have guaranteed that by the age of twenty one, I would have graduated from university, would (hopefully) have a job that would be starting my career and I wouldn’t have been living at home. None of that has happened. I’m still studying for my degree, I have a part-time job to support me through my studies and I am still living at home. Pretty much the opposite of my plan but life got in the way.

I had never even considered not going to a conventional university. It had always been the goal but when it actually came to it, there were simply too many factors going against it. The main being that my dad was seriously ill at the time. I decided to withdraw from the University of Lincoln and take a gap year. I stayed living at home with my mum and I got a job. It was only when one of my mum’s friends suggested the Open University that I realised that this could be the ideal solution. So, in the summer of 2013, I enrolled for my degree in English Literature with the Open University and opted for an introductory year studying a module called ‘People, Work and Society’. And it worked for me. The flexibility, the opportunities and the cost were even more enticing!

I have stayed working with the recruitment agency that I joined during my gap year and it’s slotted in perfectly with my studies. Plus, I’m gaining invaluable experience in a professional setting that will stand me in good stead when I’ve finished studying.

As I said earlier, life tends to get in the way. And oh boy, has it gotten in the way. Over Christmas 2013, my dad was in hospital in a high dependency unit and his body was shutting down. His kidneys, liver and pancreas were failing, his heart problems got worse, he had a septic infection, his went into respiratory failure and he then suffered from double pneumonia. The day before Christmas Eve, he was given the Last Rites and we were told to say goodbye. Somehow (and every doctor I’ve spoken to since has told me how astounded they are), he pulled through. After months of hospital stays and residential homes, he was released. Due to his unstable physical health, mental issues and newly acquired Drop Foot (paralysis of the foot), he was in need of a carer. My mum being the amazing person she is, took him into our home and despite them being separated, helped him when he needed it most.

I am a firm believer in things happening for a reason. And If I had gone to the University of Lincoln as planned, I wouldn’t have been there for my dad when he was so poorly and it’s possible he could have died and I wouldn’t have had the chance to say goodbye.

What’s the point in me telling you all of this? Well, sharing is caring, and I think I’ve rambled on these past few months without you knowing a great deal about the real me. The events of the past few years have really shaped me as a person and made my life go in a completely different direction. Things have worked out for me though, better in fact. I’ve been given opportunities to do things I never would have before. I have a brilliant job and I’m studying a subject I really love. I have travelled solo to Italy to volunteer for a week. I’ve been able to see all my nephews on a regular basis. And, I’ve met some cracking people. Hell, I’ve even gotten to ride in a helicopter!

This isn’t how I thought my life would be but I can’t moan. I have my health, my family and prospects. Sure, it can be a tad lonely at times and, in comparison, I’m not the most social student but that’s not the end of the world. Things are definitely moving into place for me though and the wrinkles are finally starting to smooth out.

**edit** It’s funny. I wrote this post a week or two ago and then Adele released her new single Hello. As I was editing it today, I couldn’t help but feel the song was fitting. So, to play us out…

Bake Off Wednesdays.

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Hump day is no longer the mid-week lull in Britain. Thanks to the return of the Great British Bake Off, for the past few weeks millions have sat down on Wednesday evenings to criticise people’s baking skills, flavour combinations and the sogginess of their bottoms (FYI to those who are from outside of Britain, soggy bottoms isn’t a sexual term but a one coined to describe damp/mushy pastry underneath baked goods). Thursday morning gossip has gone from discussing plans for the weekend to how Ian won Star Baker again. And we all love it.

To people who have never seen the program, shame on you! Only joking (I think). It’s basically a competition to find the best amateur baker in the United Kingdom. It’s sounds quite dull d56f9f4f75ed106d9d2427084b244f6fto be honest but it’s addictive and once you watch one episode, you’ll be hooked. There are many aspects that make the program great and that made it pull in an average of 9.3 million viewers during the first episode of this series. The hosting duo Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins are hilarious and full of puns while the judging duo Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood play good cop-bad cop, respectively. Add in the stress of the three rounds (signature bake, technical bake and show stopper) and the polite, British competitive nature of the contestants then you have the Great British Bake Off. It’s a recipe for brilliance (pun totally intended).

Some people don’t always realise the drama that can go on during the Bake Off, for example the great Custard Theft of 2013. The most noted was Alaska Gate. Last year when Iain’s Baked Alaska was taken out of the freezer by Diana and consequently melted, Britain went crazy. It took over Facebook, Twitter and the news. It even went as far as someone changing Diana’s occupation on Wikipedia! We take the Bake Off deadly serious.

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 This year’s contestants are brilliant and I have a couple of favourites who I’d love to win – Mat, Paul, Tamal and Flora to be specific. Tonight’s episode is only a few hours away so the countdown is on. Bring on the Bake Off!!

It’s small world.

So many people tell you what a small world it is and I’ve never really thought much of it. With 7 billion people living on our planet, it seemed more like a saying than a possibility. I have been proved wrong though.

It turns out a fellow blogger on this wonderful website is the daughter of one of my mum’s friends. I stumbled across her blog and really enjoyed reading about this mother who was originally from Yorkshire and had moved to the Middle East with her husband. It wasn’t until I saw her mum at a  function a few weeks later and she pointed out that Mrs Lady Muck was actually her daughter that it clicked! Mrs Lady Muck was someone I’d heard all about already and I’d just not connected the pieces.

Why am I bothering to tell you this? I hear you ask. Well, because today I met her for the first time and she was just as delightful as I thought she’d be. It was so nice to chat to her and to have someone to talk all things blogs with. We met at a local cafe with our mums and it was a lovely morning. And most importantly, she had some gorgeous shoes! *sigh* I knew I’d like her …

So, why don’t you guys bob over and check out her blog – it’s a great read!! I even put a little link in HERE so you can get there.

Useful links!
Mrs Lady Muck’s blog – http://mrsladymuck.com/

Why are books so expensive?!

Like many students, it’s around this time of year when you get your list of set books for the upcoming academic year. I do look forward to receiving the list and seeing what books I get to study this year (and hoping there’s one or two I’ve already read, at least!). My two modules for 2015/16 are ‘Reading and studying Literature’ and ‘Creative Writing’. Naturally, the set book list for ‘Reading and studying Literature’ has a fair few on and I’ve had to bite the bullet and order them. Seventy pounds down and a polite email from Waterstones later, I had done it .

I know a lot of you will be aghast that I’ve bought them from Waterstones and not from Amazon but I’ve not a novice. My first instinct was to check out Amazon. I searched the website with all my ISBNs and added all ten compulsory books to my basket. However, despite the majority of them being second-hand, the total came well over sixty pounds. Because I was buying the books from different sellers, I had separate delivery charges for each book. In the end,I figured I may as well pay an extra £10 and get them all brand new in one delivery.

Every year when I spend a small fortune on set books, I always wonder why they can’t be provided. We can’t complete the course without them and we’re already paying thousands a year for the privilege so I personally think they should chuck the books in for free. Much like when you buy a car and you haggle for a full tank of petrol and a free mats! I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

Anyway, moan over! I’ve written down the books below – let me know if you’ve read any and what you thought. It’s always great to hear another opinion 🙂

Oroonoko by Aphra Behn

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel

Dubliners by James Joyce

The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald

The Lonely Londoners by Sam Selvon

Othello by William Shakespeare

Candide, or Optimism by Voltaire

The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster

Only the lonely.

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I found this gem on Tumblr and I couldn’t agree more. It’s soppy I know. And I’m sure, there are some women out there cursing me for not being more satisfied and depending on someone else but I don’t care. I’ve felt on my own for quite sometime so I think I’m personally justified to want someone to care for me. There are so many things I want to experience and do, and I would love to do them with someone by my side. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need a man to be happy. It’s just that, at the moment, I’m more content than fulfilled.

Being single, you don’t miss out on just the physical side of a relationship but the emotional side too. You don’t have the same support or comfort you do when you’re committed to someone. I know personally, this is something I long for. To have someone hold my hand and show the world that he’s mine. To make me laugh and wish the day would never end. To pull me into their arms, squeeze me tight and tell me everything will be ok. That’s what I want. I’m just tired of being on my own.

Of course, not only would I have someone’s constant love and support, I’d also have someone to eat to the Revels I don’t like (namely those pesky coffee ones!). Which is one of the first attributes I look for in a potential partner!

Lazy weekends and thunder storms.

I find myself sat in my room with a storm raging on outside, a takeaway pizza on order and Disney’s Hercules starting on TV. (Yes, I thought it was meant to be July too!) It may not be how I pictured spending the last day of my weekend home alone but if I’m honest, I’d rather be here right now.

Being 21, I feel like there’s always pressure to be out and about but I enjoy time to myself. It’s nice to chuck on clothes that don’t match, forget my make-up for the day and pile my hair up on my head. And I’ve definitely made the most of that this weekend! I think lazy days, and weekends in general, are under-appreciated. Sometimes all you need is day with no plans to just slouch around and recoup before the next week begins – especially as you get older and have more and more responsibilities.

So, I’m gonna fully embrace my free time. I shall enjoy my pizza and have a little sing-along with Hercules. And that’s the gospel truth …