Smile no. 10

Huge smile this week… I found out that I have secured a post for August in the area I wanted. Although I still have a further stage of applications to secure the exact job and precise location, I know roughly which county I will be in for the next 2 years, and it’s the one I wanted!

It was just generally a very good week, especially Wednesday. A surprise day off due to an admin error meant that I had a lie-in – always much appreciated, and my wonderful other half surprised me with an evening of relaxing before the dreaded job allocation day. I came home to a bath with bubbles and candle, a 3 course dinner, and a rare evening where both of us were home together.

Smiles all round!



On being somebody’s Valentine…

Four years ago I left home to start university. Everyone was busy telling me how much I would love it, how much if would thrive. I, on the other hand, had spent the preceding summer convincing myself that I had not got my A level grades that would secure my place. I had already part filled next year’s application forms, booked a few driving lessons in and applied for a few jobs so the blow might not fall so hard. So when the big fat confirmation letter fell through the letterbox in August, just a month before term was due to start, I found myself in a bit of a pickle.

Just 4 weeks later, I found myself alone in a room that didn’t feel like mine, on a corridor of the most eclectic mix I people I could ever expect to meet. It was almost a perfectly representative sample if every clique from college. The loud and bolshy rugby lad, the crazy party girl, the punky chic into all sorts of weirdness that she felt needed sharing loudly over dinner, the quiet kid that didn’t speak, and then there was the boy next door.

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight. In fact I spent the first few weeks of term convinced his name was Steve (it’s not…) and only really had any interaction over pleasantries such as whose milk this was in the fridge, and could I please borrow a tea bag.

I found myself deeply miserable at uni. I suddenly found myself stressed to the heavens about everything, gave myself gastritis that rendered me a nauseous wreck the majority of the time and realised that my cooking skills did not even stretch to basic at best. I was strongly considering dropping out and seeing if I could defer a year on health grounds. So when I got a text from said boy asking if I’d like to go for a drink sometime, I baulked and knocked it out the park. How could I possibly entertain the notion of dating when I could barely hold myself together for a day of lectures?!

A few months of persistent efforts and truly horrendously awkward dates later, we finally gave up and called it official. This was a boy who would sit with me while I spent hours forcing down tiny meals, with my phone in his hand threatening to call my mum if I didn’t finish that chicken sweet and sour. A boy who had seen me in my PJ’s at 3am fire alarms with bed hair and sleepy eyes, seen my horrific attempts at cooking, heard me throwing up near enough daily, and yet was still interested.

That first year, I told him that I didn’t do valentines day. Mainly because I honestly didn’t really buy all the sappy ‘one-and-only’ stuff. I figured mostly you just ended up with someone convenient and muddled along with them for a while. I thought it was so commercial; after all, why do you need one day to appreciate the person you supposedly love all year round?

To some extent, I still believe that, about the commercialism. However, four years later, having fallen totally head over heels for that boy next door, I can’t say I don’t believe in love anymore. It’s amazing to have someone who is unconditionally there for you, and so in sync with the way you think that there are times when you don’t have to say anything at all. And to be able to celebrate that, and have a day to show them how much that means isn’t all that bad. Not with presents and lavish expense, but with time. Setting aside a little time to spend purely with each other, no distractions. So that was how our valentines day went. We had a lazy morning with American Blueberry Pancakes watching a live-streamed band contest in our PJs. Then we went out for dinner at our favourite local Indian, challenging each other to try something different to our usual order. We’re both massive foodie people, so this was just perfect. We ended our evening curled up on the sofa with a good film. To some, this would seem boring and unimaginative, but for us, just spending time enjoying things we have in common is just fine.

So now, I would say yes, I do ‘do’ valentines day, but I do it my way.


January… A lookback on 4 weeks of de-choc!

January is a curious month. We approach it every year with a kind of heady optimism. However, for many people, once those first few enthused days if self improvement are up, it slides into a month of disappointment and demotivation. All those goals we set so full of good intentions soon seem unattainable, we fall from our wagons and the the chocolate/wine/sofas creep back in to those oh-so-cold evenings as the rain/snow/cold provides an excuse to not leave the house for the gym again.

I ended 2014 thoroughly glad to see the back of it. It was just not a happy year. I wanted to make sure that this year was a genuine fresh start and clean slate, and while there are lots if scary/stressful things looming, I’m doing my very best to not obsess over them, and to enjoy the excitement in them more instead.

I decided to kick start this with a January focus of just giving my metabolism a bit of TLC. I’m a self-confessed comfort snacker, and chocolate had become a serious vice as 2014 threw its worst at me. So while most of the population went dry and spent January sober, I stowed the Christmas chocolate and along with banishing cake and biscuits to boot, headed for long 4 weeks of forced healthiness.

The first thing I noticed was the sudden need for breakfast. I am the world’s least enamoured when it comes to mornings, and this usually means I will happily trade breakfast for an extra 15 minutes of duvet time. But now that post-dinner chocolate/cake/biscuit munchings were out, I was waking up to find I actually needed food. Like now… before my stomach actually digests itself kind of now.  Ready-brek with honey became a regular feature of my mornings. I tried toast a few times, but found that by 11am, my usual reach for the biscuits cravings were good and back.

I also began to find that my lunch needed a lot more thinking about. I couldn’t just throw in a kitkat, or rely on the staffroom supply of cake and nibbles for afternoon hungry moments. I ended up eating a lot more fruit, and I was planning out more substantial meals. I found a few good new recipes, and rediscovered my love for peanut butter. This has always been my go-to snack when chocolate has been off the menu, and is perfect for that point when you get home but it’s not quite dinner time – hot toast, PB and Tea. If I was requesting my last meal on death row, that would quite probably be my choice.

Combined with far more regular exercise from my dance lessons, I found I had more energy, a more level mood, and just generally felt better. However, with the arrival of February, and the break of my junk food fast came the return of the sugar-feels. I am hopeless when it comes to ‘oh I’ll just have a nibble…’ A nibble becomes a bar/packet/box far too easily. I’m back to square one and it’s a tad depressing. But having allowed myself a fortnight to enjoy the freedom of choice again, I’ve decided to try and be a little more restrictive for the next few months. I want to be in good health when I head off on my travels (not to mention in better shape for graduation photos…!) and am intrigued to see if trying to stick more to my January eating pattern will have any more unexpected benefits if I stick at it for longer.

So here’s to the remainder of February. I’m trying to make fitness a focus this month. So far, I have used my gym membership precisely 100% more than I did in January… I.e. I have made it there twice this month. I need to ramp it up if it’s going to be worth the money, so I’m trying to aim for three times a week. (This was until ballet on Monday destroyed my leg muscles, and now even the stairs are proving a significant challenge!)

This was meant to go up at the beginning of February, but hey ho…!