A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014 - The Best Worst Year Of My Life

It sounds very cliche, but if anyone would have told me exactly this time last year what would happen over the following 12 months, I wouldn't have believed a word they were saying!
2014 has been an incredibly rough ride for me. From break up's and heartache to deaths to university problems to family issues to moving house and pretty much having a full blown lifestyle change, this year has certainly been my toughest so far. I would be bitter about it, but I had a few very good years in a row so I suppose it was my time to have a bit of a rubbish one!
Despite the roller coaster ride I feel like I've been on since January, this has also been an amazing year, purely for how the negatives have somehow incredibly helped me in various ways. Looking back at this time last year, I feel like a different person! That girl was naive, didn't have a clue what she wanted from life in general and the main happiness in her life was a boy - a million miles away from where I am now.
With everything happening this year, I felt like it all gave me a chance to step back and almost see things from a different perspective and about half way through the year, I thought to myself that I seriously had to buck up my ideas and GET A GRIP. 'Get a grip' is advice that I'd always said to others, yet never took it myself, and you know what? It helped, a lot.
A sudden rush of motivation and energy hit me around that point and suddenly, I was thinking about my future and making plans and I began to think very carefully about what I wanted from my final year of university and what I needed to do to succeed. By taking a step back, I focused on myself and just learnt more about myself than ever before; the type of person I want to be and who I should surround myself with. By focusing on myself and being quite selfish for a few months, I began to get back on track and soon I was smiling again and throwing my energy into things that matter instead of worries which aren't going to mean anything to me in six months time.
Relationship wise, I've been single since March now, and although it really felt like the end of the world at the time, I'm actually glad that it ended when it did. Being single (this is the longest I've been single since I was 15!) has done me the world of good. I always felt like I needed that special someone in my life, but I really don't! I've become very content by myself now and I actually really enjoy my own company these days and just having a few hours to myself each day means that I'm not going out of my mind and therefore, I'm a lot more chilled than the person I was last year. By not constantly feeling like I need a boyfriend, I've become more relaxed when talking to guys and I think this year I have mastered the art of just not caring what a guys opinion is of me - the most important opinion of yourself that you should let affect you is your own. I also know i'm not going to be 'Forever Alone', but if I'm meant to be with someone, then it will happen in its own time, it can't be forced and I'm OK with that now.
2015 is the most terrifying thought to me right now. The year will see me finish university, graduate, and then somehow attempt to get myself a job in the industry I wish to be in. It will be the first year of my life so far where I really do not know what is going to happen, where I will be and what my situation will be this time next year. For years, it has been just the next year of education, and suddenly its all going to be over. This thought scares the hell out of me and yet, I'm so excited to throw myself into the unknown and see where on earth it takes me. 2015 also means a lot of hard work, a months work experience in January, a dissertation to write and everything else which comes along with the pleasure that is third year. However, I feel that I'm finally in a place that I can do this if I just put my mind to it.
This year, I have seen so much and done so much and I'm so glad I eventually stopped feeling sorry for myself, stopped moping around the house and got out there, meeting new people and experiencing new things.
I'm so glad to be surrounded by a loving, healthy family and just the most amazing friends, and god only knows where I'd be now if they all hadn't have been there for me this year. So I'm ending 2014 with a lovely cold, a bottle of Amaretto ready for my night out and a clear view of what I want from the coming year. I'm a stronger, more independent person now and I wouldn't be like that if the up's and down's of the past year hadn't have happened.
Finally, thank you for all of those who have been reading my blog this year and I hope to blog much more in the new year. I hope each and every one of you has a very happy new year and all the best for 2015 :)


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

LIFE: The Soundtrack Of My Life

It all sounds rather cliche to say 'music is my life' but for me, music really is such a huge part of who I am and my wide range of interests. I've been such a huge fan of lots of different genres for many years as I have grown up and so when I stumbled into this TAG post which I saw on the fabulous Hollie's blog (www.goodgollymisshollie.co.uk) I just had to take part; I send my apologies to you in advance for my rambling and the fact that I cannot actually pick just one song for each, oops.

Song you listen to when you're happy?

One song I always listen to when i'm feeling happy is always 'Roll With It' of course by the incredible Oasis. The lyrics always get me so pumped and you know that feeling when you can just do anything?! That song makes me feel like that EVERY TIME. 
Sam Smith has become one of my favourite artists this year and 'Like I Can' is my favourite by far on his debut album. Not only do I adore the lyrics, it's just so upbeat and fun. 
Paolo Nutini is the word 'perfection' in male form in my eyes, his song 'Simple Things' is one that is always played when I'm feeling happy and it's that lovely little reminder to be happy for the little things from time to time. 

Song you listen to when you're sad?

'Cornerstone' by Arctic Monkeys. Every single time. I absolutely adore the song and I love how each time I listen to it, I pick up on something new that I hadn't noticed in the song before. The lyrics mean so much to me so when I'm feeling a little down, Cornerstone is always thrown on.

What song will you have at your wedding?

I don't want to seem like I've thought too much about this, but lets just say I'm fairly prepared! I would love to have 'God Only Knows' by The Beach Boys in there somewhere, as well as Lana Del Ray's 'Young and Beautiful' - they are both purely for how much I adore the lyrics.
I would also love an acoustic/jazzy version of Michael Jackson's 'Pretty Young Thing' in there too, I absolutely LOVE the song and I think it would be a fun song to have. 
I have always pictured my first dance being to Frank Sinatra's 'Let There Be Love', its the perfect love song which isn't too soppy and any song that can include lyrics about chilli con carne and sneezing in is right up my street.  

What song do you dance around the house to?

The songs I always seem to dance around my room to are The Black Keys 'Lonely Boy', Foals 'My Number' and Blondie 'Atomic' - they're all upbeat and perfect for going from putting clothes away and cleaning my desk to getting on with work and sorting folders out!

Song you play on your headphones when you're out and about?

My lovely Dad drives me and my stuff from home to Liverpool quite a bit and we always play Elton John's 'Rocket Man'. It's weird really, neither of us actually put it on, it will just come on off my Spotify and we just have that moment of appreciating it for a few minutes. 
I'm on a train going from A-Z quite a lot and funnily enough, there are three songs which I listen to without a doubt on every train journey I'm on. The one is 'Dakota' by Stereophonics.
Another is 'Fireside' by Arctic Monkeys; I remember first properly listening to Fireside when I was on a journey from Liverpool to Leeds and the rhythm of the song just fitted in so well of the flowing between hills and countryside and every time I listen to it, I remember the scenery and the relaxed feeling I had in that moment.
'Simple As This' by Jake Bugg is not only one of my favourite songs ever but I never, ever get a train back home without listening to it. The lyrics are perfect and although the song may be about a girl or whatever, I see it in my own little way and it just reminds me of family and being at home.

Song you listen to when you're angry?

Without a doubt, 'Do Me A Favour' by Arctic Monkeys. Very, very loud and just proper scream along with it every single time. It's brilliant. 

Song you would have at your funeral?

I absolutely love the song 'Pure Imagination' from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, I think a slow, acoustic version of that would be amazing. 
I'd also love for 'April Come She Will' by Simon and Garfunkel to make an appearance too as well as The La's 'There She Goes', purely because I think it would be quite funny and I'd like people to not sit around and sob the whole of my funeral, you know!

Song that makes you lose your shit at a party?

If you want to see me go a bit mad and just have a proper jolly good time at a party, then play the following:

Red Hot Chilli Peppers - 'By The Way
Oasis - 'Cigarettes and Alcohol'
Pulp - 'Common People'
Rolling Stones - '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction'

I would genuinely need a little nap after those, I love them THAT much.

The last song you listened to?

The last two songs I listened to were 'The Prophet' by Jamie T and 'Did You Hear The Rain' by George Ezra. Two of my favourite artists at the moment, both off my two favourite albums of the last few months. Absolutely superb fella's. 

Your karaoke song?

I think when it comes to karaoke, the more cheesier it is, the better! I don't exactly go to karaoke bars on a weekly basis, but I do think that if I was handed a mic right now, I would sing a real karaoke classic like Take That's 'Back For Good', people would sing along and would distract them from my terrible singing. 

What song do you work out to?

When it comes to working out, I would choose to blast a bit of Calvin Harris. I would normally go for 'I Need Your Love' or 'Thinking About You' or even a golden oldie of the very fit Scottish man 'I'm Not Alone'. Duke Dumont's 'Need U (100%)' would almost definitely get a play too.

Song with the most memories attached?

There has not been one night out in the whole nearly 3 years I've been at university where R Kelly's 'Ignition' hasn't been played, it is a real classic and it just gets everyone in the mood to go out and we all have a singalong. 
'If I Had A Gun' by Noel Gallaghers High Flying Birds is one of my favourites but also brings back so many memories. Its one of those songs that I can either listen to it and smile or listen to it and burst into tears, so its a real mixture of emotions every time I listen to it.

Song that you hate the most?

I really, really hate pretty much any song sang by Demi Lovato, I don't even mind the girl as a person, just hate her whiny annoying voice in sickeningly cliche songs, 
For some reason, I've always hated Sandi Thom's 'I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker' too, even though I very, very rarely hear it nowadays, I just can't stand it!

Your favourite song of all time?

I have always just adored The Cure's 'Friday I'm In Love', The Beatles 'Can't Buy Me Love' and Arctic Monkeys '505' - they all have their own little special meanings to me and I will never get bored of them, I would happily listening to them on loop for the rest of my days if I had to!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Love Life: First Dates

I think its time to write about something that we can all relate to - a love life - because we all have one or all probably want one. Lets face it, we are all fairly nosey really aren't we? So I'm writing this, with a little help from my friend Gemma - we often sit and discuss all things 'love', complain about the in's and out's of it and feel like between us, we can compare notes and really get into the nitty gritty sometimes AWFUL situations of a FIRST DATE.

I'd say my first 'real' first date was when I was 15. Obviously before turning 18, first dates are quite a challenge, as there really is nowhere to go (well, there definitely isn't in the town of Kidderminster anyway) If I remember correctly, we went for a summer walk down the canal and went to a tea room and I had a chocolate milkshake, it was very sweet and very innocent and yes, he did become my boyfriend. First dates are a completely different matter when you're a little older though, it's not just about the 'cuteness' and you may go in there having absolutely no idea about what it could be like. Before I get into what me and Gemma think a first date should really consist of, we'll just tell you a little about our own personal first date experiences - good and very, very bad.

For the sake of this post, we will not use real names, no sticky situations please! Lets refer to our subjects as fruit and vegetables..

Gemma met Mr Parsnip in the summer. She met him on a night out, romantically in the smoking area. They picked up on similar interests such as music on this encounter and soon they were texting and arranging to meet up. Mr Parsnip took Gemma to a comedy club - firstly, what a cracking idea! Not only did Mr Parsnip pay for it all as he had to pre-book it showing organisation and this gave them both an opportunity to see each others humour and have a good chat about themselves. The first date went very well. They arranged to meet up again and he dropped her home. Despite the instant connection between the two of them and how impressed Gemma was with his planning, forward thinking and just general effort, the spark had definitely sizzled out by the end of the summer.

Something like a comedy club is a really good idea for a first date, its relaxed and just fun. A date that I went on around two years ago was similar, we went for a few drinks and then to a gig at a small, intimate venue. Dates like that make such a good change to 'lets grab a coffee' or 'fancy a few drinks in town?'.

I'd say my first bad dating experience was when I was 17. I'd met Mr Carrot through mutual friends and as you do, got talking on Facebook and we planned a day down at the river in a town nearby and just seeing where the day took us. I cannot stress how important it is to not lie to someone you are taking on a date - if you say you can drive and have a car, its probably best to also add that its actually your mum's car and the back seat is full of cuddly bears. The whole experience was a nightmare to put it nicely to be honest! He didn't say a word to me all day. I understand that he could have been a bit shy or nervous, but I mean not a single word. It was, hands down, to this day, the most awkward situation I've ever been in - and I've managed to get myself into some right pickles over the years. I hate to admit it, but I had to find a way out, when you're that young its a bit difficult to say 'I want to go home' flat out, so admittedly I did text Gemma with a 'get me out of this date right now' - obviously she helped out and soon I was tucked up on her sofa with a cuppa tea just hoping it would all blow over.

I'm not pleased with myself that I had to get Gemma to get me out of a date, but sometimes they really are THAT awkward - and that is also not the only time Gemma has had to do that (3 times actually, oops)

Awkward situations are always a lot of fun aren't they. Gemma's one is particularly one of my favourites. A charming boy, lets call him Mr Melon, took Gemma for a drink in Starbucks and then went for a bite to eat at Ed's Diner. A few days later, she discussed the date with a friend. The friend had also been on a similar date a few days before and they both compared notes. Similar actually isn't the word, because the date was the exact same date with the EXACT same guy! Even the timing of meeting, where about's, possibly even the food he ordered. What an amazing imagination that guy must have!

A good first date experience for me was with Mr Potato. We simply went for a few relaxed drinks and then an evening stroll through the city. Despite after a few of these dates with Mr Potato, the spark just wasn't there. However, that doesn't change the fact that I actually had a really good time on the first date. It was so relaxed and we had some really interesting conversations, it wasn't once awkward or boring and I probably could have easily had stayed with him for a few more hours. A good flow of conversation is absolutely vital on a first date.

Between me and Gemma, we have pages and pages of the types of experiences above. However, we thought it was important when discussing first dates to really understand what a first date should really be like. From the place to the clothes - take note if you're a first date fresher:

Style:  You never want to be OTT on a first date. But you also don't want to look like you've just rolled out of bed. Strike a balance! On a first date I went on, he showed up in a hoodie and jeans - its a first date when impressions really do actually count, so put a bit of effort in! Girls, I really do think that on a first date your style should be, in a way, quite reserved. Obviously wear what you feel comfortable and attractive in, I do however think that the boobs should be a little covered up on a first date - nobody wants someone just talking to their assets for the whole night do they!


History: I can't stress this enough; don't sit and talk about your ex all night. It really is just SO cringey. If you're moaning about the type of person they were and just how awful your previous relationship was, that actually says a lot about the type of person you are and also suggests that you're not over them, so probably shouldn't be on a date, A first date is not an agony aunt session, just keep it to yourself for now eh. It's also best not to bring up any 'bad dates' you've been on - all the other person will be thinking is, on your next date with someone else, am I going to be the 'bad date' they went on?!

Blah Blah Blah Me Me Me: The whole concept of a first date is to get to know each other, but not to tell that someone your life story. A first date isn't the time or place to discuss personal family matters, a friend's drama or what you often eat for lunch. Ask questions. Be curious. Talking about yourself and yourself only is a huge turn off and makes you look very uninterested in the other person. Do they look bored? Do they suddenly have wondering eyes? Who can blame them, you've just sat and described your goldfish to them for the last 15 minutes. Ask them about things, anything that comes to mind, just strike the balance of an equal conversation, then you get a good flow.

Social Media: Chances are, you're probably most likely Facebook friends with the person you're dating. That is OK. However, its probably best to hold back on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest, Bebo, MySpace, Blogger, Club Penguin and Vine for now. You don't know where this date could take you - if there's no spark and you're not interested and have no desire to meet them again, then you now look like a bit of an idiot really, I had a funny situation of coming across tweets from someone I was about to go on a date with. They were among the lines of 'So nervous, haven't been on a date in so long' - from this, I made presumptions on what he was like and his love life. Knowing he was nervous, made me nervous. By getting to know someone inside out on social media before actually going on a first date, you make presumptions on everything about them, when they could be completely different in person. Its also hard to open your mind up to someone when you already know little bits of information that you've rummaged together whilst checking out their social media. Just be patient for now.

Location: I would personally suggest to go somewhere which isn't too loud but also isn't completely dead. Somewhere comfortable where you can just chill out and have a nice time. I think its fine if you want to start off somewhere chilled and then head somewhere a little louder as you will have chatted and began to get to know each other beforehand. Perhaps a bar or a cafe, just be aware of what is happening around the time of the date - Is the football going to be on in the bar? Is there an open mic on that night? Don't be weird about it, just be aware!

Kissing: Well, I personally think that it is completely your decision, if there's a spark there, then why the hell not! I'd just suggest to not make a big deal about it and just see what happens.

and finally..
ENJOY YOURSELF! Its ONLY a date and dating is supposed to be fun. I've met some really interesting people through dating over the last few years, some who I'd class as friends now and some who'd I'd never, ever choose to see again. You don't know where it could take you, so just enjoy yourself, don't take it too seriously, just have a good time and see what comes from it.
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