Embracing 2017 – ?

I’ve had a bit of a stalling start to 2017 one way and another. I’m just coming off the back of my second nasty cold of the year and feeling like all I’ve done for the first 51 days of this year is be ill and too tired to do anything or been working hard to catch up with myself with a bit of food preparation and sleep thrown in along the way. Basically, I don’t feel I have done anything personally productive or worthwhile, which is disheartening as I had big plans for 2017 being a year of real personal achievement.

I spent a lot of December carefully crafting a list of things I wanted to try/do/achieve in the new year. I keep writing these lists, mostly because I wish I’d done a ‘Things to do before I’m 30’ list, but didn’t and now my 30th is nearly 2 years behind me. I also find it useful to set goals and record my achievements as part of my constant efforts to bolster my mental well-being – all well and good until I feel like I’m failing at life and then it is all just counterproductive.

Anyway….I’ve been meaning to write a bit about my list of ambitions in order to make them more concrete and hold myself more accountable to them than if they’re just scribbled in the back of a notebook that no-one ever sees and even I might never look at again.


  • Read 10 Books

I love reading and am a terrible book hoarder – I buy books at a much faster pace than I can read. I’ve possible got worse since I got a tablet last year and started reading Kindle books, although at least they don’t take up physical space in the house.

So far this year I finished reading The Unbroken Line of the Moon by Johanne Hildebrandt, which I really enjoyed and finished within a couple of weeks, and have moved on to Dark Eden by Chris Beckett, which is interesting but hasn’t gripped me like The Unbroken Line of the Moon and is taking me longer to get through. As a result of Kindle offers and sales I already have another 13 books waiting to be read – so I really shold get a move on with them!

  • Lose 7 Pounds

The ubiquitous weight loss goal! My success on the weight loss/management front has been really mixed over the past couple of years. I lost 8 pounds in the last 5 months of 2015, only to put it all back on over the Christmas period and subsequent months in which I was very ill. It took a while for me to find my stride again with watching what I ate and exercising but by the summer of last year I had got into a good habit of using the exercise bike between 3 and 6 times a week and lost around 6 pounds. The descent into autumn/winter and the festive season took it’s toll again and now I’m pretty much back at square one.

If I put my mind to it then 7 pounds really isn’t very much, but it’s the motivation and willpower that I lack. I have recently started doing Pilates as part of an initiative at work and am really enjoying that. Unfortunately it’s only a 6 week introduction though and I’m struggling to find a class locally that I can join once this is over.

  • Get another Tattoo & Get another Piercing

Both of these have been on my mental wish list for a while. I’ve had tattoo ideas in my mind and several occassions on which I intended to get inked – finishing my PhD and turning 30 in particular – but lack of funds, confidence and also knowing a good studio to go to have all contributed to me not actually doing anything about either.

I now have funds and think I have found a good studio, so it’s just the confidence to go in and talk to them about it that I need to work up! I know it’s silly, but my social anxiety usually does get the better of me still.

  • Climb Snowdon

We moved to North Wales 3 and a half year ago and now live around 25 miles from Snowdon. Despite this, and the fact that both Pete and our dog have made the ascent on more than a few occassions, I have still not made the trek myself.

Apart from the fact that it seems like something you should do if you live up here, it ties in with my general fitness and personal challenge aspirations so really want to tick this one off as soon as I can, hopefully in the spring once the weather is a little better but before the busy summer tourist season.

  • Have a birthday party

I’m less keen on this one than I was when I wrote this list. Since moving to Wales I haven’t had a party to celebrate my birthday, not even for my 30th, which was/is something that kind of upset me. As a result of Pete being away every summer for his research (my birthday in in July) and most of the people I know being 250 miles or more away, it’s just always seemed like more hassel/stess/upset/disappointment than it’s worth.

Pete turned 30 just over a week ago and had a party to celebrate last weekend, which kind of spurred me to want to do something for myself this year, but even organising his was a turbulent experience for me and being let down by people who I thought should care more is still a real kick in the gut for me that I’m not sure is really worth it.

  • Go to Iceland

This one is as good as ticked off already. As my birthday present to Pete for his 30th I am taking him to Iceland at the end of March. Flights and hotels are all booked, now we just need to work out how much of what we want to do can be fit into 8 days!

  • Clear out more junk

This should probably be broadened to ‘Clear out more stuff’ – I’m not a hoarder exactly, but I do own a lot of stuff and have trouble getting rid of things, either for sentimental reasons or because, well, you never know when that might be useful! I know it’s been something that has annoyed Pete for a long time, but now even I am getting frustrated with the amount of stuff I have everywhere and would like to have some clearer spaces in the house. I really need to get better at getting rid of things that I really don’t need – I’ve already sold a few things on eBay and have a box to go to the charity shop, but need to get more serious about it if I’m ever going to make a real dent on my accumulations.

  • Write a short story

I always wanted to be a writer and as a teenager I would write stories regularly, although never anything I would dare share with anyone! I can’t guarantee it’ll be any different if I try again, but I at least want to try and see if I still can, so short stories seem like a good place to start.¬†

  • Renovate the Bathroom

A bit of a boring practical one. We’ve been quite slow on working on the house due to time and finances, but this year I really want to get the bathroom sorted. What we have is functional but very old – it still has a pink enamelled cast iron bath that is ugly and the surface is a bit pitted and marked. The tiling is old and the grout is patchy, the window needs replacing and there was an electric shower fitted by the last owner but without additional tiling so there is wallpaper that gets drenched and is peeling away from the wall.

I’m a bit intimidated by how much work it might be and I hate coordinating different tradespeople (plumber, window fitter, plasterer…..), especially up here where they can be a bit ‘relaxed’, i.e. hard to get hold of, but I really want to get it sorted now.

  • Learn how to be less afraid

This is both a big ambition and quite an abstract one. As part of my longterm depressive issues I suffer from varying degrees of social anxiety that are often quite debilitating and definitely stops me from doing things. I hate it. Sometimes it feel like I’m just afraid of life and I can get so frustrated with myself especially when I’m stuck in a spiral of being too afraid to do something that part of me wants to do, or at least wants to be able to do.

I don’t have much of an idea how to go about fixing it though.
As an additional one, as always, I’d like to blog more. I’m already doing better than last year, which is somethings. Hopefully I’ll manage to keep it up and keep you updated on what I’m getting up to.

Thanks for stopping by.






Things have changed quite a lot for me over the past few months, which partly explains my lack of blogging recently.

Since I graduated, back in July, I continued to struggle to find a job and life was becoming increasingly unaffordable (and stressful as a consequence) for Pete and I in Southampton. After a lot of thought, discussion, agonising, too-ing, fro-ing and making and changing of decisions, we finally committed to take a major step and leave the South and move to North Wales.


The decision had been a long time coming – we’ve loved the thought of living in North Wales since we first visited my parents after they moved to the region 5 years ago and have toyed with the idea of moving there ourselves since the beginning of this year. Despite the long build up, the final decision, and putting it into action, happen rather quickly; we told my parents we were coming, handed in the one month notice on our flat and started filling boxes.

A lot of boxes.

I knew I had a lot of stuff, but I didn’t fully grasp how much until I had to sort it all, pack it into boxes and transport it nearly 300 miles across the country. I tried getting rid of a lot of things, selling a few bits on eBay, giving some to charity and just throwing out a lot of things that I wondered why I had even kept in the first place – but I’m just not very good at being brutal when clearing things out and we ended up having to make three trips with very full hire vans to shift it all.


I think Pete was a bit overwhelmed by seeing all my things labelled up in boxes, for some reason he seemed
to think that things like a box of tights, a box of nail varnish or two boxes of shoes were unreasonable! Men! They just don’t understand. Haha.

The four weeks between making the decision and the end of our tenancy totally flew by in a blur of packing, cleaning and saying goodbye to people. It all got a bit stressful towards the end, trying to plan how to move everything and where to keep it. Luckily my grandparents offered us space to store things in their cellar for the time being whilst we stay with my parents before we get set up on our own, which has made things a bit easier.

The final weekend in the flat was a mad rush to fit the last bits in the van and make sure the place was clean enough to ensure we’d get a good portion of our deposit back (we’re still waiting to hear about that). Alf did get rather distressed and didn’t understand what was happening, why the flat was empty and why he didn’t have anything comfortable to sit on – although now we’re here I’m pretty sure he’s recovered and is happy about the move.


We’ve been here for just over two weeks now, and I’ve just about sorted out our living space in the upstairs of my parents house. There are still things in boxes, and much of it is likely to stay in boxes as we have limited space, but it’s actually really cosy and homely up there at the moment, even though this isn’t going to be a long term arrangement.

As you can see from the photos, we’ve managed to get out and about in amongst the unpacking, work that Pete has had to be getting on with and making arrangements for paid work. I’ve done a bit of volunteering in the shop where my mum works, to help out and keep me busy and it’s looking like both Pete and I will be able to pick up some paid teaching work at the local uni once the new term begins. So things are looking up across the board.
Alf is loving it with so much great outside space and so many new places to explore. So is Pete for that matter, he’s so much happier in the wide outdoors than stuck in a city.

Sorry if that was a bit of a long winded update. I really intend to blog more regularly again from now on, but probably more on crafting, baking, general life and sharing interesting things than on the product side of things (although products do often hold an important role in my general life so won’t be entirely absent).

Even when I’m not blogging I tweet quite a lot, so you can follow me on twitter¬†@Betty Leopard. Also, since getting a new iPod for my birthday I have joined the masses on Instagram and have definitely got into posting photos, quite a lot of which are of Alf. You can see my photos and follow me here.

Thank you so much for sticking with me over this quiet period. I hope you will enjoy my upcoming posts.