Dalkeith Country Park

Last Saturday was the one and only day of Scottish summer (well, unless the forecast is right and next week is nice and sunny and warm, but I’m not about to hold my breath as I have the week off work so it’s bound to chuck down with rain). Considering I spend 98% of my days stuck in an office, I was not going to miss the chance to be out in the sun, so off we set for Dalkeith Country Park.

Dalkeith Country Park is so ridiculously easy to get to I have no idea why we have never visited until now. Seriously, it took us maybe 25 minutes tops to drive there. Little did we realise until we were pulling onto the A720 that the Dalkeith Show was on last Saturday so it was crazy busy. Getting parked was a bit of challenge and we may have had a small domestic, but it was worth all the stress in the long run.

The main house is not open to visitors, but it sits atop a hill, looking down on the massive lawn and everything going on in the main area of the Park. It was an impressive view and I don’t really think our pictures do it justice. Incidentally, we both agreed that the lawn would make the ideal place of a picnic. There were quite a few families dotted about, just soaking up the sun and the stunning view of the Montague Bridge.

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Positive Image

In the past few weeks I have seen a lot of posts on social media and blogs from girls I consider beautiful and flawless admitting that they don’t like the way they look. Having spent my whole life feeling self-conscious about my weight and bad skin, it really struck a chord with me. In one way it was almost comforting to know that these gorgeous women who have hundreds of followers on Instagram and look amazing in every picture they share are plagued by the same worries and anxieties that I am.

On the other hand, it also made me stop and question why we put so much pressure on ourselves to look a certain way. When I think back to my teenage years, I can’t remember a time I didn’t compare my looks to that of other women, be it the popular girls at school or actresses on TV and in films. With the rise of social media, and in particular photo sharing sites such as Instagram, there seems to be an increasing feeling among young people that they have to present a certain image of themselves to the world.

Interestingly I know quite a few of my friends who don’t like getting their photo taken. They will look at pictures taken on nights out or special occasions and say they look awful. Until recently I didn’t realise that I also do this. Looking back over recent pictures I found myself disliking how I looked in every single one.

It was that attitude that inspired this post. I wanted to try to boost my self-esteem and show myself that despite my imperfections, I can look nice in a photograph. I decided to share a recent picture of me that I quite like.

At the risk of sounding narcissistic, I like this photo because I actually look happy. It was taken on a day trip to Stirling and it was one of the first times I had felt properly happy in months. I also like my hair in this picture, especially the wash-out blue streaks I had sprayed in that morning. I might not look perfect, but that’s because I’m not. I’m nearly 30 so of course I have crow’s-feet. Instead of focusing on that as a sign of ageing, I want to see it as a sign of maturity, of gaining life experience and wisdom.

All of us have something about ourselves that we would like to change. I think it’s human nature to never be one hundred perfect satisfied with how we look. I know I am always going to wish I was thinner and had better hair, but instead of letting this get to me I am going to try to accept my imperfections and realise that, given the right light and angle, I can look okay in a photo.

2017 So Far

It’s nearly June, which means we will be in the sixth month of the year. Am I alone in feeling like we have reached this point really quickly?

To be fair, the year started out quite slow. January and February seemed to last forever. Since March, however, the months have been speeding by. Maybe it is the lighter nights and mornings, but spring 2017 has been something of a whirlwind. In some ways I hope the weeks continue to pass quickly. I have a whole week off in July, my first full week this year, and I am so ready for it. On the other hand, the faster the months go in the sooner it is to my 30th birthday. I don’t think I’m quite ready to hit that milestone yet. Continue reading “2017 So Far”

Wanderlust

I don’t know if it’s because it’s felt like winter for ages or if it’s looking back at my twenties and realising I haven’t made the most of them, but all of a sudden I really, desperately want to travel. It’s almost as if I have been living in a bubble for the last 29 years, happily oblivious to the rest of the world and now I’ve been jolted out of that bubble and I just want to go everywhere.

Perhaps it’s a result of working in an office with so many well-travelled colleagues. Hearing their travel tales and seeing some of the travel pictures has sparked a desire to visit somewhere completely new. There is so much to see and do in Scotland alone, but I am increasingly becoming aware of how many other holiday options there are out there and now that I am earning a steady and reasonably decent salary, I feel like I can maybe afford to go to another country.

For a while now I have been determined to make this the year I finally go abroad. With my 30th birthday looming, I feel like it’s about time I started venturing to places outside of the UK. My other half has been told that for my birthday I don’t want flowers or chocolates or perfume, I want to go on holiday. Over Christmas we researched flights and I now have a bucket list of places for him to choose from. My birthday is not until October, however, and it just seems incredibly far away. For whatever reason I want to travel and I want to travel now.

Unfortunately I will have to wait, but in the meantime I will torture myself by sharing my bucket list of places I really want to travel to. Hopefully in the next five years we can get through some of them. I better get saving!

  • Copenhagen – This is my first choice for my birthday. The flights are relatively cheap which is a bonus and I have heard nothing but good things from everyone who has ever been there. I did some research and there looks to be loads of things to see from castles to canals and, of course, the Little Mermaid statue. I’m already day dreaming about the photo opportunities in my head.
  • Iceland – Second on my list; the other half is not as keen because he thinks it will be cold in October. Normally I am not a fan of the cold but one of my colleagues recently visited Iceland and she has been raving about it ever since. The Blue Lagoon looks amazing and I also want to go for a chance to see the Northern Lights. What could be more romantic?
  • Paris – Originally I wanted to go to Paris for my birthday, but with recent events in the city I kind of got put off. Some of my friends have also advised that Paris is super busy and I know my boyfriend wouldn’t like that. London crowds annoy me after five minutes, so I don’t know if I would actually enjoy Paris. That said, there is something about seeing the Eiffel Tower on TV and in pictures that just evokes a sense of romance.
  • New York – Ever since I my obsession with Gossip Girl circa 2010 I have wanted to go to New York. As a certified shopaholic I would be in my element, although I probably would come home bankrupt. Needless to say I have always wanted to catch a Broadway show and stand in Times Square. I love the idea of visiting at Christmas to see all the lights and window displays.
  • Vienna – I don’t know why but I have always fancied a trip to Vienna. I don’t really know much about the city, I just always feel like it would be a nice place to visit.
  • Finland – A bit like with Iceland, the lure of Finland is the chance to see the Northern Lights. There is a place called Kakslauttanen which is a series of glass igloos which allow you to lie in bed and gaze up at the sky. Ever since I saw a picture of this place I have been longing to go. I just imagine it would be incredibly romantic and amazing. I’m hoping I can persuade my boyfriend to overlook the cold and take me some time.

There are many more places I could add. I really like the idea of Cyprus and Malta for a sunnier holiday. If I listed them all I would be here all day. It might also end in me booking an impromptu flight and I don’t know how I would explain that one to my other half!

What is on your travel bucket list? Do you have any recommendations? Hit the comments with them and happy holiday planning.

What Love Means To Me

love

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

A lot of people are quite scornful about today and, yes, it has become overly commercialised and tacky but I still love the idea of Valentine’s Day. As many of you may already know, I am a romantic. I love anything to do with romance and hearts and flowers. Ever since I was little I have been captivated by the idea of meeting my prince charming and being swept off my feet.

Of course, I know real love is vastly different to what we see and read about in fiction. Nevertheless, I still think it’s a good idea to dedicate a whole day to love. Valentine’s Day is marketed as all about romance, but love takes many shapes and forms and should be celebrated for all the many ways it can touch our lives.

At one point or another all of us will experience some form of love. Our first concept of love is usually garnered from our parents. I was lucky enough to grow up in a happy home. My parents were married for 30 years and though they could bicker for the world, they were still very much in love.

I always remember my mum telling me that the best advice she ever had was from her own mother. My grandmother told my mum that marriage is like two horses pulling a plough; both have to pull in the same direction in order for it to work. Now that I am older and have been in a relationship for three years, I can fully appreciate just what my gran meant by these words.

Being in a relationship takes work. When I was little I always assumed that love was simple. I never realised that loving someone means learning how to deal with their bad moods, or learning how to admit when you are in the wrong and compromising when you can’t get your own way.

For me, falling in love has taught me how to be a rounder person. I have always had a tendency to be selfish, something I attribute to being an only child. My whole life I have been spoiled and allowed to get my own way. Being with my partner has taught me how to share and to accept that I cannot always get what I want. I honestly do not know how he puts up with me sometimes. I am stubborn and moody and often a little unfair to him.

Loving someone means loving them through good and bad times. If you are lucky enough to find someone who wants to be with you even when you get huffy with them, who thinks you look beautiful even when you have a break out and you haven’t shaved in a few days, then you should cherish that person. Until recently I took my partner for granted, but losing my mum showed me that you should hold the people you love most close. My boyfriend is my rock. He has helped me through the worst period of my life this far and he knows how to make me smile. No one believes in me more than he does. Without him I think I would be a lot more selfish and definitely a lot less happy.

Whether you like the idea of Valentine’s Day or not, use today to show the people you love most just how important they are to you. That doesn’t have to involve buying a gift or taking them out to dinner. Something I’ve learned over the past few months is that words are so much more powerful and meaningful than a gift. Simply saying, ‘I love you’ or ‘Thank you for being in my life’ is worth more than any bunch of roses or fancy meal. It is the little things that really count – making a cup of tea, rubbing their temples when they have a headache, snuggling while you watch TV. That is what love means to me.

My Mum

On Wednesday 4th January I lost one of the most important people in my life – my mum. We’d known it was coming. Only days before the doctors had told us she had 3-4 weeks left. We didn’t realise she would leave us so quickly.

Mum had been ill for some time. She was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in February 2016. I didn’t find this out until December 2016. My parents never told me about her diagnosis. I knew she had an incurable illness. She first started having trouble walking in late 2014. At first she just found it difficult to lift her right foot. After a while she couldn’t walk without the aid of a walking stick. There were numerous trips to the hospital and lots of tests and as early as March 2015 she had been told she wouldn’t be able to walk properly again.

I remember how devastated she was when she heard this. Mum was always an active person. She hated sitting down and doing nothing. Every day she cleaned the house from top to bottom, went out to clean the houses of a few old people, ran errands for our elderly neighbour and did the gardening and cooking. She always said to me that she didn’t mind getting old as long as she could still get about.

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New Year, New Goals

header2017

Happy New Year everyone!

I was lucky enough to spend New Year with my loved ones, relaxing with good food and a couple of glasses of prosecco. However you saw in 2017, I hope you had a wonderful time and wish you all the best for the coming year.

At this time of year it is customary to make resolutions and to set goals for the twelve months ahead. Since starting this blog I have made a point of picking things to achieve each year. In theory this gives me something to use as the basis of a blog post. I’ve found, however, that setting year-long goals is not always helpful. So this year I have decided instead to create a wish list of things I hope to do in 2017.

The idea behind the wish list is to give myself less pressure. I have found that when I set goals I put myself under a lot of stress when I inevitably don’t achieve them. With so much happening in the last few months I have realised that life is too short and instead of striving for things beyond my reach I should make the most of what I have.

This doesn’t mean that there are not things I am hoping to achieve in 2017. My wish list is a summary of what I hope will happen in the next twelve months. These are not goals so much as markers to try to live by. Hopefully they will prove less stressful and more achievable than the aims I have had in previous years.

2017 Wish List

  • I want to rediscover my enjoyment of books and reading. Somehow I lost touch with the book world a little in 2016. I was not aware of new books and I struggled to find a novel that I wanted to read. In 2017 I want to capture the enthusiasm I used to have for books and reading. I hope to read more often and to actively seek out new releases.
  • I want to take more photos. I already take lots of photos – just ask my partner! In 2017, however, I want to take even more. They are memories, a snapshot of a moment in time and they will be all that is left to tell our stories one day. There is no better feeling than looking through an old photo album and remembering where and when certain pictures were taken. I also want to try to improve my photography. Right now I am mediocre at best, but I hope to be able to take a reasonably good photograph by the end of the year.
  • I want to do the things I want to do. That might sound a bit silly and maybe even a little selfish but for most of my live I have held off doing some things through fear of the unknown. When I first graduated I longed to move to London and eventually New York but fear of how to find a place to live/a job/money put me off and so I stayed in East Lothian. The last few weeks have shown me that life is too short and precious to waste. I already have too many regrets. I don’t want to add to them.
  • I want to stop worrying about getting older. This year I turn 30. For so long I have been dreading it, but today, for the first time, I felt almost excited about the prospect. Yes, leaving my 20s behind will be scary but it is a chance for a new chapter in my life. So much is going to change this year. I have to learn to accept that change and try to make the best of my life.
  • I want to travel. This is kind of tied into the above wish. For years now I have been saying I would like to go abroad. I even got a passport in 2015 with the intention of taking a winter sun holiday. Due to finances this never took place. In 2017, however, I want to make sure that I finally tick this off my bucket list. The world is full of amazing places and I think it’s about time I start seeing some of them.
  • I want to cherish my loved ones. If 2016 has taught me anything it is that life can change in a heartbeat. It is easy to take the people around us for granted but we never know when our time with them is up. I want to strive to spend time with everyone who matters to me, to make memories with them and to tell them I love them more often.

That’s my wish list for 2017. Do you have any resolutions or goals for the new year? Whatever they are I wish you luck in fulfilling them and can’t wait to read about your progress with them.