2016-2017; Another year

Another year is over and we’re all trying to find our feet in 2017. As much as I sometimes see the fuss around ‘New Year’ as a bit pointless, I do like the impression of beginning a new chapter that comes with the change of date – generally speaking, as people we have always found new beginnings and clean slates appealing and a motivation for change  (who starts a new fitness programme on a Thursday?).

I have spent the past week or so drafting a list of my own personal ambitions for 2017. Unfortunately I am currently fighting off a rather persistent illness which has left me quite unable to act on most of them so far,  so I thought I would take the opportunity to look back on 2016 in the meantime instead.

From a global media perspective, 2016 seemed a little cursed. Looking a little closer you home however, I am looking back on 2016 rather fondly. I did lots of fun things, caught up with some old friends, took a couple of holidays, got a new job, made progress on the house and made progress on myself too. As I didn’t really get my act together on the blogging front, I wanted to share some of the highlights with you now.

February – Long Weekend in York

In February I arranged to take Pete to York for his birthday to coincide with both the Jorvik Viking Festival and going to see Týr, a band he is a big fan of but never managed to catch live. I was in the early stages of what would go on to be an epic chest infection and pleurisy but still had a lovely time getting away with Pete and seeing York and all the Viking attractions. Unfortunately the Jorvik Viking Centre itself was closed after being badly flooded at the end of 2015, but the rest of the Viking Festival was really interesting and enjoyable – Pete entered the ‘Best Beard’ Competition and was very pleased to come in 2nd place.

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clockwise from left; Micklegate, Emblem of the City of York, Jorvik Vikings
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clockwise from left; Hnefetavl (Viking Chess), Pete as Dick Turpin, Second Place in Jovik Best Beard Competition

March – Chickens!

Since we moved to Wales in 2013 we have toyed with the idea of getting chickens and in March Pete decided to go for it, built a coop with help from a friend and then bought us four hens from a local farm. I was a bit apprehensive at first, but it’s actually been really enjoyable to keep them. It took a few months before they started laying eggs but we haven’t been short of eggs since.

Since we got the first four hens our flock has now grown to 8 with the addition of a cockerel who we hatched from an egg ourselves, two hens that were a gift from a neighbour and one more hen who we rehomed from a colleague of Pete’s who was having to move away and couldn’t take the hen with him.

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The Original flock
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Chipper – Our very own hatchling. Clockwise from top right; hatching day, one day old and four weeks old
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clockwise from top right; me with Chipper at 4 weeks, Mabel & Beauregard, Chipper at 2 and a half months

March-April – A Hen-do & Wedding

At the end of March I went on my first ever hen-do for my good friend Laura. We had a great day and night out in Oxford, starting with a walking tour, then lunch and drinks, followed by cocktail making, a late night tour of the castle then on for more cocktails all followed up with afternoon tea the following day. It was lovely to catch up with some friends I hadn’t seen in ages and to let my hair down a bit!

Although it was a bit of a trek down from Wales to Oxford I returned the following weekend, this time with Pete, to celebrate the wedding days itself!

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Obligatory Hen-do accessories, Cocktail Making, Afternoon Tea

June – Northumberland

In June we went away to Northumberland for a week with my parents and our dogs. We stayed in a lovely cottage near the ‘village’ of Twice Brewed which was within walking distance of part of Hadrian’s Wall. We had (mostly) great weather and spent lots of time out and about and did lots of walking, I clocked more than 100,000 steps on my FitBit and we tired the dogs out thoroughly.

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Playing Shield-Maiden at Homesteads Roman Fort, Alfred owning Hadrian’s Wall, The Sycamore Gap in Hadrian’s Wall near our cottage
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Ruins of Thirlwall Castle, Molly enjoying the sunshine and a sheep outside the garden wall
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Lindisfarn Castle, Cragside, Bamburgh Castle
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Walking along Hadrian’s Wall and a very tired dog

July – Croatia

For the past three years Pete’s research has required him to spend around 3 months every summer living in Croatia and for the first time in 2016 we actually managed to find a mutually convenient time, and the money, for me to go out and see him. So, despite being terrified of flying on my own, I headed out for a week at the end of July which also happened to include my birthday! It was far from a ‘normal’ holiday, but I was expecting that, staying in an old house in the middle of nowhere with no mains anything – water from a tank that needed to be kept topped up, gas from bottles and the only electricity from a car battery in the main living room. I had the best time and it made the summer apart from Pete and Alf so much easier.

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Me & Pete, My accommodation, The meadow next to the house
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Radio Tracking, Croatian Lunch and a baby Salamander
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Plitvice Lakes 
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Clockwise from left; Lake, Birthday wine and epic food

September – Wedding Weekend

Just after Pete returned from Croatia in September we had a mission of a weekend attending two weddings nearly 300 miles apart. It was important to us to be able to attend both so we didn’t mind making the effort to get to both. It was a lovely weekend with great weather on both days and two lovely (and very different) ceremonies. It was strange that having had very few friends get married we had 3 this year, that combined with 2 babies in our close friendship group probably suggests we’ve got to ‘that stage’ in life (not planning on following suit ourselves mind!).

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Wedding Number 1 – tipis in a field in Yorkshire
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Wedding Number 2 – Pete as an Usher at a Church Wedding in Hampshire

Well that’s ended up being quite a lot longer than I expected, but enjoyable for me to look back at all the pictures we’ve taken over the past year. It’s not that nothing good has happened since September, but I thought I’d better reel myself in before this becomes even more of a mammoth post than it is already!

I’ve been saying this for a fair while now, but I really do hope to get back into blogging properly so hopefully this will just be the first of many 2017 posts!

For now I’ll leave you and say Thank You to everyone who made my 2016 so great, and to everyone who might still be reading this.

Happy New Year,

Love

Betty

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2016: Reflecting and Resolving

And so another year has ended and a new year has begun.

Those of you who know me, or who have been reading my blog for a while, will know that New Year is one of my least favourite times of year. Of course the turning of the year is meant to be about both reflecting on the past and planning for the future, it is what January is named for – the Roman God Janus, God of endings, beginnings and transitions. My predisposition towards negative interpretations, pessimism and generally feeling inadequate unfortunately mean that, for me, the New Year is associated with a great deal of unhappiness and dwelling on personal deficiencies.

I am trying to do better, but I still ended up in tears on January 1st and feel another bout may be imminent even today.

2015 was a bit of an odd and emotionally turbulent year for me. I struggled to come to terms with turning 30 and the fact that I didn’t even have my boyfriend around to celebrate with me let alone any friends. We also said goodbye to my granddad who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and passed away just three months later. On top of that I’ve had a lot of soul-searching and mixed emotions surrounding my self-image, my personal relationships and the general direction of my life.

2016

As much as I find the actual transition between years emotionally difficult it is still a good opportunity to set out some goals for the future, not resolutions, but ambitions and things to work on or towards.

  1. Buy less, Buy Better
  2. Continue with the weight loss
  3. Continue with the part-time vegetariamism
  4. Read
  5. Decorate at least one room
  6. Take better care of the garden
  7. Improve my Welsh
  8. Increase my savings

I suppose I should have something about trying to be more satisfied with what I have or to have a more optimistic outlook, but I don’t want to set myself up to fail!

I hope you have all had a good Christmas and New Year and that you are feeling more optimistic about it all than I am!

Love

Betty

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2015 – Clean Slate

It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of all the New Year hubub, or the massive expectations placed on the change in calendar year for bringing about change in our lives or the world at large. Unfortunately the little demon that lives in my brain sees this only as an opportunity to dredge up all the disappointment and missed opportunities of the past year and project them forward onto the next. All-in-all this makes for the beginning of January being quite a miserable time for me (and, often, for those unfortunate enough to be around me).

But, I am trying to be better. So, no dwelling on what I didn’t achieve this year, and no resolutions either, as they tend to make me focus on negatives too.

So, to kick of 2015, here is a quick look at some of the things I did do in 2014, even though I didn’t blog about them, in the hope of many more good things to come in 2015.

Halloween 2014

This year we celebrated our first Halloween in our own home with a small gathering of friends and a sickening quantity of sweets and cake 🙂

Canal Boating in Yorkshire, November 2014

In November we travelled over to Yorkshire to visit friends and hired a narrow boat on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal for a day. It was a lovely day with great weather and definitely something a bit different, I even had a go at driving for a bit which was nerve racking but fun once I got into the swing of it.

Wales Comic Con, November 2014

We attended our first comic convention this year in Wrexham. I’ve been keen to attend a convention for a while but had always thought we’d have to travel further to get to a good one – but when we found one in Wrexham we jumped at the opportunity. It was quite late notice so I only put together quite a simple costume – a test subject from the game Portal. It was loads of fun and we saw Anthony Head, Chris Barrie, Jerome Flynn with other Game of Thrones actors and the main cast from Atlantis. The next convention is in April and Nicholas Brendon is going to be there (Xander from Buffy), so I’m definitely planning on going again.

Thank you all for sticking around. Here’s to the future 🙂

Love

2014 Ambitions

All-in-all, 2013 was a bit of a wash-out of a year for me. It wasn’t all bad, I finished my PhD, we moved to Wales and I started my first proper job (and got my first proper pay-cheque). But, over the course of twelve whole months those are pretty much the only highlights. Being unemployed for more than six months, having to move in with my parents and leaving my WI are amongst the most significant lows – oh and reaching a new personal maximum weight 😦

I’m feeling pretty low right now – which isn’t exactly surprising, I dislike New Years at the best of times. However, in the interests of taking positive steps towards lifting my mood, and also to keep reasonably regular blogging up, I wanted to include a list of my 2014 ambitions (not resolutions).

2014Ambitions
Also, I really want to crochet this…..

AllAboutAmi Dragon
Photo from All About Ami

And pretty much everything else on All About Ami. You can find the pattern from the dragon here or have a look around at all the great designs at allaboutami.com.

I hope you are all coping better with this time of year than I am and I wish you all the best for any resolutions or ambitions you might have for 2014.

Love

Betty

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Watching: New Sherlock and Arrow Season 1

Reading: Anno Dracula by Kim Newman and Fatale graphic novels

Listening to: Woman’s Hour podcasts and Freakonomics podcasts

New Year: 2012

This time last year I set out a short list of resolutions, things I wanted to achieve and develop during 2011 (here). Looking back over this list one year on, I’ve done ok, better than I expected anyway 🙂 This is a bit of a wordy post I’m afraid, but is something I really want to write about.

Reviewing my 2011 Resolutions

1. Lose Weight/Tone Up
Over the summer I put in a lot of effort and lost half a stone in about 2 months. While the amount of effort I’ve put in since has tailed off a bit, I haven’t put any of it back on, just lost a little bit of tone.

2. Invest in a more grown up skin-care regime
Well, I’ve written quite a lot about this over the course of the year (here). I’ve experimented with a fair few products and have found something that is certainly more suitable for my skin than what I was using before.

3. Make more time for the important people in my life
My efforts on this haven’t been wholly consistent. I’ve gone through phases in the amount of effort I’ve made, and overall probably haven’t made as much effort as I had intended 😦

4. Work on being happier/more confident and enjoying life more
My mood has fluctuated a lot this year, for various reasons, but I have definitely made significant efforts towards being happier and enjoying life more. Pete and I have made more efforts to do fun things together and I have really tried hard to stretch myself and do things that wouldn’t normally be within my comfort zone (eg. Blogger Meet!).

5. Work harder
This had probably been my area of least success. My dedication and motivation has taken a fair few hits at various points, and I think I’ve probably spent more time wishing I wasn’t doing a PhD than I have feeling positive about finishing 😦

So, that’s probably 3 and a half out of five? Could have been better could have been worse. But it’s important to keep focussing on the future, moving forward and continuing to better ourselves, not dwelling on the past and the things we could have done better.
Which brings me nicely to my resolutions for 2012. I’ve actually written a big long list of things in my ideas book, but I’ll limit myself to the key ones here.

1. Lose more weight/Regain my tone
I am very happy that I managed to lose half a stone this year, but my ideal weight is about 10 stone, which is still another half stone away. I’ve done it once so I am confident I can do it again this year 🙂
While exercise is going to be the biggest part of this (Gillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred), I want to improve my diet too, largely by reducing the amount of unrefined carbohydrates I eat.

2. Continue my efforts to be happier, confident and to enjoy life more
Again, I laid a good foundation for this is 2011, but there is more I can do. While money is always a limiting factor, I hope to get out and have fun as much as possible, with friends, family and Pete. I need to do at least one thing this year that scares me (another Blogger Meet could fulfil this one).
For the sake of minimising the number of resolutions, I should also throw making more efforts with the people I care about in here too. These people are so important and it’s too easy to forget this before you realise they’re gone.

4. Get more work published
In 2011, I had my first article published by an online magazine. I intend to get more work published, by the same magazine and, hopefully, beyond! Writing is still a career I think I might like to pursue, so I’ll need all the experience I can get.

5. Develop my skills
Specifically, I want to improve some of my craft skills, take a class on cupcake decorating and learn more about photography.

6. Leave Southampton
I have been in Southampton for more years than I care to think. It’s not a bad town, but after so long it seems a bit boring to me. I don’t want to be limited by location, there has to be somewhere better!!

7. Grow my hair
Well, it might be a bit overwhelming if all my resolutions were big ones! I’ve tried to grow my hair before and always got annoyed with it at that in-between stage. This year I really want to try and get past that. I might still want to go back to being short, but I at least want to try it longer 🙂


The prospect of an entire new year spread out in front of me, with so many things I want to achieve, is quite daunting. I am hopeful for a year of positive developments and making happy memories.
Have you taken any time to think about your ambitions for 2012? Whether you have or haven’t, I hope the year holds good things for you too.

Love,
Betty
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That Was The Year That Was: 2011

So, the end of another year is upon us, and it seems to have come around so quickly! Although I’ve had this blog for a while, 2011 has been my first year of ‘proper’ blogging, and I think it’s gone pretty well; I’ve certainly enjoyed it 🙂
I hope you have too. Thank you all for reading and I hope you stick around to see what 2012 brings.
Here is a brief overview of my 2011.

A Review of 2011 in Headshots
Those of you who know me will know that I like to change my hair quite a lot, so here is a brief overview of some of the looks I have sported this year. For those of you who don’t know, see my post My Many Faces.
Some Of My Favourite Moments of 2011

Family Holiday to Gozo, Malta (June 2011)

I hadn’t been on holiday with my family in so long and this came at a point when I was really stressed out with work, it was so nice to spend a week with the people I love, in the sun, eating cheese 🙂

Meeting Wolf Puppies at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust (June 2011)

There aren’t many opportunities in life to sit with a litter of wolf pups in your lap. Due to Pete’s involvement with wolf research and the UK Wolf Conservation Trust, I was lucky enough to do this 🙂

My 26th Birthday (July 2011)

Although Pete was away at the time, my mum came to visit and two of my very good friends went out of their way to help me celebrate with a whole lot of cake 🙂

Going to Cornwall with Pete (September 2011)

On Pete’s return from working in the US (for 3 months) he took me away to Cornwall for a week, where we stayed in a lovely little cottage, saw some great sights and enjoyed glorious weather 🙂

Xmas Blogger Meet (December 2011)

This time last year, the prospect of me travelling to a city I had never visited before, on my own, to meet people I had never met before, would have been unthinkable. I am so proud of myself for doing this and so glad I managed to find the confidence as I had a fantastic time and met some great people.

These aren’t the only good things from this year; if I were to list them all we’d be here for a very long time. These are just a few events that jumped out at me while I was going through photos from the year. There are a couple of things I’ve done in December that I still need to write about so haven’t included either.

Today is my dad’s birthday, but if I get time I will be writing a resolutions post later. If not, may I wish you all a very happy New Year. Have fun and stay safe 🙂

Love,
Betty
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