A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

2016: My Year in Review

2016 – it has been a weird old year hasn’t it? Not only did we have to get used to the thought of us no longer being in the EU, we also had to try and get our head round the fact that Donald Trump is going to be the US President and around all this was also legends passing away, a handful of them some of my very favourites, the ones who I have looked up to and appreciated for years; Bowie, George Michael, Prince, Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman and so, so many more. However, for me personally, 2016 has turned out to be a very different year to the one I thought I was welcoming back in January. 

When I looked back upon 2015 this time last year, I thought I had just been through probably the biggest year of my life so far. However, I wasn’t prepared for what was to come. Yes, I had graduated and scored myself my first graduate job, but what had I really learnt from experiences? Not a fat lot to be perfectly honest. 2016 was the time for that. Back in January, I still lived and worked in Liverpool, was still pretty much still in love with my ex-boyfriend and was in a very, very bad place. I was unhappy with almost every inch of my life. I was struggling to get up in the morning and I couldn’t see the point in doing things that used to make me happy. Although I was in my favourite city and living the graduate life, for me, it wasn’t all it cracked up to be, and one morning mid-cry, I decided to quit my job and packed my bags. The same week I cut things off with my ex, drank a ridiculous amount of wine and threw my middle finger up to the mess I had become. It was time for a change. I moved home and changed my life, for me. 

With the constant support of my family and friends, I threw myself back into job searching and stumbled straight into not just what I wanted to do, the reason I had gone to university in the first place. The day I got offered my current job, a journalist, I sat at the bottom of the stairs and cried in disbelief: this was it, I thought to myself. I can’t tell you how much my job has done for me this year. I have got my confidence back, I have met all sorts of incredible people who have inspired me and left a lasting impression on my life and my colleagues feel more like best mates. When I look back at 2016, I will remember it for the year that my life truly began thanks to the job I accepted. 

In terms of my love life, I am, yet again, ending the year single. However, I’m not that bothered by the whole thing. I finally found the courage to let go of my ex at the beginning of the year and that let me see the whole dating thing in a whole new light; I was looking for someone for me, not just someone who would distract me from my previous boyfriend. I have been on several dates, which is considerably less than 2015, and I even met a guy who became my boyfriend. Yeah, it didn’t work out, but some things don’t and I coped with it MUCH better than last time – so that must mean I’m learning, right? But having that confidence to get myself back out there and show guys the real me is something that took over 2 years to get back, so although it didn’t work out, I haven’t lost my confidence with dating and being the real me. 

If 2016 has taught me anything, it is to hold your loved ones closer. I’m not the busiest girl ever, but I don’t get to see my family and friends as much as I would like to. But because I’m not always around the gang and the family, it has actually made me appreciate them more. Moments with them are more precious now and something to look forward to. I think we’re all guilty of taking our loved ones for granted, right? But I think seeing both of my parents get remarried this year brought it home just how special and uplifting those occasions are.  

For me though, 2016 has been the year where I have begun to understand what makes me happy in life. I have been fortunate to go on two holidays and various long weekends, which all made me immensely happy. I have thrown myself into record shopping again, reading books, and of course, writing – all things that I seemed to put on hold last year. I have even explored more with my hair and makeup, which is something I’ve always been just a little too afraid to do. Maybe 2017 will be the year that I change my style a bit – damn floral prints ALWAYS attract me, but maybe 15 floral dresses is probably enough for now. I have also began to accept the real me: yes, I’m impatient, yes I’m a bit of a drama queen now and then and YES maybe I am a bit of a control freak. But, that IS me. However, I’ve also learned that it works for me to spend time by myself and guess what have probably been the biggest compliments this year? That I’m funny and that I have a lovely smile (apparently!) – If I’m cracking jokes and smiling often, I think that is a sign of a very good year. 

So, what’s the plan for 2017? Get fit and be healthier, continue to grow my confidence, get away more and love more. Read more, write more and hopefully make some new friends along the way.  

Finally, a huge massive THANK YOU for reading my blog this year, it has meant the world to me! The feedback I have got on posts have reduced me to tears, in a good way, as many posts had taken a few years for me to actually sit down and write them, so thank you and I can’t wait to continue in the new year. 

Happy New Year! I hope you all have a very happy 2017.  


Sunday, 18 December 2016

Bethan Loves: Top 12 Albums of 2016

As if it has been a year since I wrote my 2015 albums of the year, where the hell have the last 12 months gone?! You can view last years here. Luckily, I am allowed to listen to music whilst I work in my office, which has meant that I have been able to listen to hours’ worth of new music! Like I said last year, I am not going to pretend to know everything there is to know about music, but here are my top 12 albums of this year and a little explanation of why and what my recommended tracks are, have fun listening…

12. Zayn – Mind Of Mine 

Probably my biggest surprise of 2016 (music wise, let’s not get into Brexit and the US Election) is how much I actually enjoyed Zayn’s debut album. It is safe to say that with this album, he is so far away from a clean cut boyband member that he once was. Zayn, in my opinion, has established himself as a pretty good singer-songwriter, and although Mind Of Mine isn’t the best album ever, it is well worth a listen.
Recommended tracks: Wrong and BeFoUr

11. The Weeknd – Starboy

Last year, The Weeknd was my number one! It is safe to say I had fallen pretty hard for him. I love The Weeknd. I think he is absolutely brilliant. However, Starboy is probably my least favourite of his so far. Saying that, I still enjoyed it enough to include it in my top 15. Starboy is a good album and worth a listen.
Recommended tracks: Secrets and I Feel It Coming

10. Beyonce – Lemonade 

I couldn’t not include Beyonce in this list, it is BEYONCE. Like 90% of the population, I too questioned who the hell Becky with the good hair was. What I enjoyed so much about Lemonade was that it was so, so different to not only anything she has ever done before, but different to everything else out there too. Beyonce on the celebrity spectrum is by far one of the most private, and that is why I enjoyed Lemonade so much, as it was like we learned more about her and what makes her tick, rather than just a ballad or two and a few dance tracks like previous albums.
Recommended tracks: Formation and Sorry

9. Viola Beach – Viola Beach

Another one I couldn’t not include in the list. I was heartbroken when I heard the news that the members of Viola Beach had been killed at the beginning of the year – the lads were so, so talented and I had been listening to them for a while beforehand. That’s why I was stupidly happy when their album was released and the world could hear just how great they were. The album is everything that makes me happy in music; upbeat indie vibes and the perfect summer soundtrack. 
Recommended tracks: Drunk and Go Outside

8. Jack Garratt – Phrase

Jack Garratt, for me, has been one of the most captivating artists I have ever come across. Sometimes I just watch videos of him performing on YouTube and get blown away with how much that boy is actually doing on stage! Phrase is a fantastic album and has the perfect mix of chilled and upbeat songs. There is so much going on in each song too that every time I listen to the album, I hear something different, which is what makes him so brilliant.
Recommended tracks: Fire and Surprise Yourself

7. Rihanna – Anti

I have loved Rihanna since I was like 11 years old and listening back to her catalogue of albums, you realise just how much she has developed as an artist, the girl has had a go at so many genres. Anti took a few months to grow on me, but once it did, I really began to appreciate it and realised that it is a great album. It isn’t my favourite from her, but I actually saw her perform the majority of the album on her tour back in June, which made me love it even more.
Recommended tracks: Consideration and Desparado

6. Honne – Warm On A Cold Night

I stumbled across Honne at the beginning of the year and fell in love with them pretty much straight away. For me, they are the artist that has made me the most excited this year. The way every single song on the album has been put together actually blows my mind. They are catchy, ridiculously cool and so good for every occasion. Someone That Loves You has made me smile, cry and sing along every time; any artist that make you feel ALL the emotions on an album is always going to do well in my eyes. If you haven’t given Honne a listen before, put them on right now. 
Recommended tracks: Coastal Love and Someone That Loves You

5. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

Someone asked me a while ago if I was a Bruno Mars fan. The thing is, I have loved every album of his, but Uptown Funk was SO overplayed it made me kind of hate him. However, 24K Magic is SUCH a good album! I read an interview with him where he said he just wanted to make people dance. You know what, I love that. As much as I love getting pretty deep when it comes to music, I also love to just listen to music that makes me dance, smile and makes me feel like heading out and having a good time. That is exactly what this album does; it is the ultimate feel good album. 
Recommended tracks: Finesse and Perm

4. David Bowie – Blackstar

An obvious one? I don’t care. To say I was devastated when Bowie died is an understatement. He is my hero and I have admired him since a young age when my Dad spent hours playing his albums on car journeys. Of course Blackstar is a good album, it’s Bowie! 
Recommended tracks: I Can’t Give Everything Away and ‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore

3. The Hummingbirds – Pieces of You

This was by far the album that I anticipated the most. I came across The Hummingbirds almost five years ago when I moved to Liverpool and have loved listening to them, and seeing them live countless times, over the years. I interviewed them back in 2014 and they told me that the album wasn’t far away, so I got fairly concerned when it wasn’t around in 2015. When the album came out this year, I understood just why they took the time in creating it. In my eyes, the lads are perfectionists and it is so clear that an amazing amount of work went into the album. Check it out if you haven’t yet, it is perfect.
Recommended tracks: Knocking On My Door and Taking of Tomorrow

2. The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come To Expect

THIS ALBUM. I know I’m way too enthusiastic at times, but good god, I have played the crap out of this album this year. I love Alex Turner, I love Miles Kane, but the both of them together is one of my favourite things in the world. Their last album came out when I was just 13 and although I loved it, Everything You’ve Come To Expect is so different to any album I have ever heard before, I have been blown away by it in 2016. What I love most about this album though is the lyrics, they are so clever, catchy and make me break out in all sorts of moves you would rather not see me do. 
Recommended tracks: Used To Be My Girl, Miracle Aligner, Sweet Dreams TN and Pattern

1. Blossoms – Blossoms

I only came across Blossoms late last year, so I would have been surprised back then if anyone would have told me that I would put them as my number one album of 2016. But, this album is genuinely the one I have enjoyed listening to over and over again this year more than any other. Blossoms are some of the coolest lads I have ever seen and heard in my life and the album makes me dance, sing way too loud and has even reduced me to tears at some points. Each song has been put together so perfectly that is hard to not appreciate it in all of its glory. In my opinion, Blossoms deserve every ounce of success they achieve in the future. Not only are they a great bunch of down to earth lads, they create some of the best music I have ever heard. If you haven’t listened to this album, you absolutely must. 
Recommended tracks: Texia, Honey Sweet, Blow and My Favourite Room

Check out my Spotify playlist which contains all the albums (apart from Beyonce…) I have included in my list, all in one place. Enjoy!

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