Sunday, 31 December 2017

My 2017

I wasn't actually sure I wanted to write this post. 2017 was not a good year for me. It sounds terrible when I say that considering it was the year I got married, but really being married was one of the only things positive that happened in this year. It has, without a doubt, been the hardest year of my life so far with multiple difficulties like chronic illness, money struggles, bullying at work, mental health problems and much more. But I am a positive person at heart and I decided actually writing down the highlights of 2017 would help me to look back on this year as less of horrendous experience and remember that I am incredibly lucky. I know that amongst the angst and hardships that I have been blessed in many many ways and as this little space is my place to reflect I thought I would share.

1. The biggest highlight of the year has to of course be marrying the love of my life. Although I very almost didn't make it to my own wedding after contracting a horrendous bout of food poisoning that almost landed me in hospital the night before, the wedding was beautiful. Due to my illness I was unable to do the things I had planned the days before the wedding and so  my family from both sides came together to organise, decorate and make our day the best it could be and it was very special to have them all so involved. The day itself was full of joy and laughter and I have never felt more loved as I was surrounded by people from all the different areas of my life.

2. The second highlight of the year has to be our honeymoon. After the usual tiredness and exhaustion of planning a wedding and having had an awful illness on top I was absolutely shattered. A week spent hidden away in a tiny cottage in the Lake District was exactly what we needed. Long lie ins were followed by quiet walks in the deserted countryside that inevitably ended up in a bowl of chips and a pint at the pub. We would then come home to snuggle in front of the fire, watch movies, read books and eat left over wedding cake. It was the best week of my life so far and was a beautiful start to our marriage.

3. The third highlight of the year was buying my car. It had been my dream to buy myself a little Fiat 500 since I was a teenager and so when my little car died I knew exactly what I wanted to replace it with. I absolutely love driving around in my little red car and it makes me smile each time I walk out the house and see it on the drive.

4. A big highlight of the year has to be the week long summer school that was part of my Diploma in Creative Writing at Oxford University. We spent seven days from 9am-7pm doing workshops, seminars and writing. It was such a good week and although I felt exhausted by the end of it I was so happy I got to spend all day writing for a whole week. It really reiterated to me that writing is my passion and when what I want to do with my life.

5. In September I began to tell people about a dream I had had for quite a while to start my own Christian women's magazine. It is a terrifying dream and I was scared to tell people in case they answered with words of discouragement and disbelief in my ability. To my surprise I was greeted with a flurry of positive feedback and encouragements left right and centre that they felt this was something God was telling them we should do. Although we haven't quite started yet I would say decided to following Gods calling and start a magazine in 2018 has been a real highlight and boost to my year.

6. The final highlight of this year has to be being married to Russell. Without going too mushy on you all, he is the most wonderful part of my life. I could not have got through this year without him. His support, kindness and love has been invaluable and being his wife is the best role I have ever had. I can't wait to do another year of life with him by my side.

It's nice to look back on the happier parts of this year but I would be lying if I said I can't wait to move onto the New Year tomorrow. I have a lot of plans for 2018 and I am really looking forward to getting started. I hope you all have a lovely New Years Eve and I will see you next year! 
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Friday, 15 December 2017

The Oxford Diaries: Waddesdon Christmas Market

Another wintery Saturday in December another Christmas market! I really cannot get enough Christmas markets and if my husband would let me I would travel the country going to a different one each weekend until Christmas. Unfortunately this is only the second market we've made it to this year but it was one I definitely wasn't going to miss. I loved the Waddesdon Christmas market last year when we went even in the cold and the drizzle and so this year when we woke up to bright blue skies and frosty air I couldn't wait to go and have a look. 

 The market was more than twice the size of last year and I couldn't contain my excitement at all the amazing smells coming from so many of the stalls. We decided to start with a nice hot lunch before doing a bit of shopping.

Russell opted for an amazing looking gourmet burger whilst I went for my usual slow roast pork bap. 

We then ambled along looking at what all the different stalls had to offer and picking up some treats along the way.


Rather unusually for pudding my husband opted for some amazing cheesy chips with gravy (otherwise known as french poutine) whilst I went for the more usual option of nutella crepe. 

Hot, chocolatey and messy the best thing to do in the situation was to get stuck in. 

Unfortunately I think this might be our final Christmas market of this year. We were hoping to visit the Edinburgh Christmas markets whilst up in Scotland for Christmas but due to work commitments we have had to give that one a miss. Never mind, there is always next year and I know I'll be back at Waddesdon in 2018.  

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Monday, 11 December 2017

The Oxford Diaries: Blenheim in the Snow

On Sunday, we down here in Oxford woke up to a Winter Wonderland! Growing up in Liverpool there wasn't an awful lot of snow around and so waking up to our little village surrounded by snow I couldn't believe it. We spent Sunday morning exploring this new snowy land going for a lovely walk in some fields close to the house not wanting to risk the icy roads. But today we woke up to find the snow still here and the roads were cleared and safe so we decided to pop over to Blenheim Palace and see it in the snow. 

As to be expected Blenheim looked unbelievable in the snow and as it was a very cold Monday afternoon it was nice and empty meaning we could have a lovely quiet walk and snap a few snowy photos. 

I hope those of you with snow had lovely snow days this weekend too. 

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Friday, 1 December 2017

The Oxford Diaries: The Grapes

My husband and I have been meaning to try The Grapes on Oxford's George Street ever since it opened. With it's large array of craft ale on tap and a menu boasting pub classics as well as pizza we knew it would be a winner for the both of us. A few weeks ago my husband decided to enter their latest competition on Facebook for two free pizzas and would you believe it he actually won! And so after a little Christmas shopping in the new Westgate, we decided to pop over and sample our winnings. 

Unable to resist the great bar snacks menu we decided to try a few for starters. We went for the sausage roll and meatball nachos. The sausage roll was delicious, just the right sausage to pastry ratio (my husband is very serious about the amount of pastry on a sausage roll) and the nachos were to die for. I have recently discovered a love for meatballs and these were so delicious. If you're looking for a light snack in Oxford, definitely take a look at The Grapes bar snack menu.

Of course we then had our free pizzas. I went for my usual classic margherita whilst my husband tried a roasted ham and chorizo pizza. Both were absolutely delicious with that lovely floppiness of a true thin crust Italian pizza with cheese oozing on to your plate so you have to gobble each slice up quick. It was a truly delicious night and we can't wait to go back.

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