Despite my best intentions, the festive period always degenerates into excuses for staying inside and eating. Whilst my weight hasn’t spiralled *completely* out of control, my activity levels plummeted over December and that just leaves me primed with excuses for January – “But it’s been so long, I just lost all my stamina” (that is of course a complete lie – I never had any stamina to begin with).
Thanks to the positive influences that are Pete (boyfriend) and Alf (dog) I have managed to peel myself out of my chair on occasion and get out to enjoy some fresh air and the beautiful Anglesey coast.
Newborough and Ynys Llandwyn
We had some spectacular weather over the weekend of the 21st & 22nd January and even though domestic tasks took up a large part of the day we wanted to make the most of the sunshine and get out for a walk. Pete decided he wanted to go to Newborough forest for what he described as a short walk to the beach and Llandwyn Island. The ‘short walk’ turned out to be a 2.5 hour, 11.3 km round trip – really I should know better than to have trusted his perception of how long things take!
Whilst I did end up in an awful lot of pain having gone from no activity for practically a month to an 11.3km hike and we had to finish the walk by the torches on our phones, we did get to witness Newborough beach and Ynys Llandwyn at sunset, which was very beautiful even if I’m not overly romantic (for those who don’t know, Ynys Llandwyn is named for Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers).
Unsurprisingly, as such an iconic and picturesque place there were quite a few people gathered, most with very fancy camera set ups and one with a camera drone, while I was just snapping with my phone. To be honest, I’d hate to see the place in August at the height of the tourist season, if you can I would definitely recommend going in the ‘off season’.
The weather this past weekend wasn’t quite as glorious as the weekend before, but we made the most of the bit of sunshine on Saturday afternoon and paid a visit to one of our more regular dog walking locations – Lligwy Beach. It was coming up to low tide which is the best time to visit Lligwy as it means there is masses of open sand that the dogs can run around on and we were keen to try and wear out both Alf and my parent’s dog Molly who had been staying with us for a few days.
We got caught in a very brief hail shower but were rewarded with a lovely rainbow (hail-bow?) afterwards.
This time of year is great on Anglesey as there are so few people around. I could have counted the other people on the beach on my fingers. It’s so nice to be able to get out and see the sky and the sea and have some space to breathe and think and disconnect from all the rubbish for a while.
I have big plans for getting out and about this year, including climbing Snowdon, which I still haven’t done even though we’ve been up here 3 and a half years and Pete has done it several times. I really need to get over this excuse of ‘breaking myself back in slowly’ and actually put some effort in though, my concept of slowly might frustrate a snail.
Hope you are well and have survived January in more-or-less one piece,
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!).
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.
January has been such a long month! Not that I’ve done a lot with the endless amounts of time that seem to be between us and the New Year now – it feels like this has just been a month of working, sleeping and waiting to get paid. An early pay day in December seems great at the time, but 6 weeks between pay days seems like a massive stretch now.
Despite the incredible amount of rain we’ve been getting recently, we have still managed to get out most weekends with Alf. I’ve even bought myself some upper sexy outdoorsy walking trousers. Ok so they’re not going to in any style awards, but they are comfortable, warm, water-resistant and mean I don’t have to risk damaging any of my smarter trousers on our outdoor adventures.
I’ve really enjoyed being able to get out-and-about up here, even when the weather isn’t perfect. The scenery is beautiful and most places we go are so quiet we barely see another person. Plus I can really do with the exercise – a desk job isn’t agreeing with my waistline.
When the weather hasn’t been so good I’ve been doing some reading – books and magazines – I seem to read an inordinate number of magazines these days, particularly compared to a few years ago. Current favourites include The Simple Things, Mollie Makes, Women’s Health, Delicious, Good Food and I recently picked up my first copy of Things & Ink. I don’t read all of these on a monthly basis, I only subscribe to The Simple Things and pick the others up as and when I remember and am particularly interested in the edition. I’ve also subscribed to Audible, so I can listen to audiobooks at work when thing are a bit quiet or in the evening if I’m too tired to read. The first audiobook I’ve downloaded is The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, which won The Man Booker Prize or 2013. I’m enjoying it a lot, there’s definitely a lot of mystery and intrigue.
I suppose the most noteworthy event of January is that I have got a new job! I interviewed yesterday afternoon and was offered the position by the evening 🙂I’m very excited by the new opportunity. My current job has only been on a three month contract which expires at the end of February, plus it hasn’t been the most exciting job in the world – but they have paid me my first decent salary, so I’ve tried not to complain too much. The new job is about the same money but I’ll get a two year contract which gives us much more security and the possibility of being able to buy our own place soon(ish). I start in the beginning of March and I’m very excited. I think this will definitely call for a shopping spree for some new (work appropriate) clothes and shoes J I’ve done fair amount of browsing online lately and there’s quite a long list of things I’ like to add to my wardrobe. I’ll probably have to go through and whittle the list down though, we are trying to save for a house a well! Roll on Friday evening, Love
Over the past year or so I have really got into magazines – not Fashion magazines, I have no time for that dross, but craft magazines and slightly different lifestyle magazines.
When I came across The Simple Things I was intrigued by it’s stripped down take on the lifestyle magazine, about enjoying the simple things – simple food, the outdoors, family & friends, collecting, tradition and seasonality – rather than the numerous, overly consumerist, high-end, designer, glossy lifestyle magazines that promote shiny, polished, expensive perfection that I really don’t think is a genuine route to fulfilment or happiness.
My interest also stemmed from where I was in my life at the time – really wrestling with my PhD and feeling lost and discontented with life – and a growing realisation that I needed to focus more on the beautiful, simple things in everyday life; which is exactly what I feel this magazine celebrates.
I love all of their regular features; tasting notes and articles on good, honest food – bread, cheese, chocolate, features on food traditions from around the world – from the Full English to Churros to Merenda (mid-afternoon Nutella on bread for Italian children), personal, intimate guides to great, interesting cities by people who really know them, seasonal garden observations and activities and loads more on interiors, collectors, days out, tea and books. I like that encourages you to take a step back, to look at the things that most of us take for granted and really appreciate them and take joy from them instead – I think everyone needs to do that at least every once in a while.
I will also always love a lifestyle magazine that features real, muddy dogs as part of that lifestyle!
Although, now I think about it, I hold the writers and editors at least partly responsible for my recent weight as their articles definitely led to my nearly month long obsession with croque monsieur and my (fantastically successful) experiment with toffee apple crumble – both simple and both brilliant.
It’s a really great magazine to properly chill out with – the autumn and winter editions have been lovely to snuggle up with and always make me feel warm (especially the bonfire night edition that featured hot chocolate with pink peppercorn syrup). Hopefully the spring editions won’t have to keep me warm for too much longer as I’m still holding out hope that the sun will be bringing some warmth soon and I’ll be able to get outside and put the gardening features to good use!
If you’re also sick of the same old nasty lifestyle magazines and believe that there is more to life, and that the little things matter, check out The Simple Things – I think you’ll like it.
I am positively delighted to be able to announce that I finished and submitted my PhD thesis yesterday! While this isn’t the end of the process and I don’t get to call myself Doctor Betty yet, it does mean I don’t have to look at or even think about it for a while.
As I don’t have a job to go to just yet (not for want of trying!), I now have some time off – some of the first proper time off I’ve had in four years, with no guilt or anxiety of work hanging over me. I have to say, it’s pretty brilliant 🙂
My celebrations so far have been pretty low key. I am immensely happy to have finished, but it all still seems quite unreal and dreamlike, plus all the effort of finishing has left me really tired.
Last night I stayed in with Pete and Alf and we had Indian take-away and a lovely bottle of Prosecco that my Mum and Dad sent for me, along with some pretty flowers, to say well done.
Today I have been quite lazy, enjoying being able to lie-in guilt-free, then I went out for a walk with Pete and Alf for the first time in ages. It was pretty cold but there are signs of spring coming through, including some crocuses beginning to emerge from the grass.
I have a few plans for what to do with my time, some of which aren’t so exciting (like tidying up all the mess I’ve been putting off while I finished up) and some of which are a bit more interesting (including getting back to blogging and some new ideas I have for posts!). In the next few days I’m definitely looking forward to being able to read something that isn’t a scientific paper. I have several books, comics and graphic novels that I have accrued in recent months and am very much looking forward to reading.
Thank you all so much for sticking around during my absence, which was a fair bit longer than I intended. I hope you will like what I have planned.
Well, the weather over the weekend was actually quite crazy. Saturday was a lovely day, despite the weather forecast. I went out walking in the New Forest with my dog and two good friends. There was a bit of a breeze but the sun was out and I didn’t even take a coat! Sunday, was a completely different story. It was rainy and cold, at one point it even tried snowing, but it was far too wet for anything to come of it. However, by five o’clock it had cleared up so, even though it was still pretty cold, Pete and I decided to take Alf out for a walk and I took my camera along too. The sun was setting behind a pretty blossomed cherry tree in the graveyard as we walked through which caught my eye.
I’m really enjoying this transition period between winter and spring, and not just because it’s (mostly) getting a bit warmer. I like the lighter evenings, the brighter sunshine, the colours of the sunsets, and the promise of being able to wear shorts and lighter tops, maybe even a dress again!
Hope you had a good weekend, whatever your weather! Love