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Sunday, 17 December 2017

5 Things I'd Do on a Return Trip to Gran Canaria *sponsored*

Years ago with an ex-boyfriend, we travelled to Gran Canaria for a cheap and cheerful holiday in the semi-sun. We put little to no thought into our trip pre-flight, did not research the best areas to go or activities to do, packed our suitcases and essentially - showed up.

As an adult, this is no longer how I holiday.

It could have been the memories of the flagging relationship, the lack of planning and research involved in the trip, or just the length of time that has passed since I visited, but I really don't think that we did much when we were there. We ate at English-tailored cafes by the sea front (where the football was always on for my other half), we tanned by the pool with Magnum ice creams, and ate crisps in our hotel room living room. Not the most exciting run-down I know, but honest!

So, it got me thinking - if I were to go back, what would I want to explore second time around?

*Health and safety warning - this post does contain pictures from 2012 - you have been warned*


Saturday, 4 November 2017

Guru Pet Food and #DiscoverDogs

School is tough this year; losing my NQT frees and taking on additional responsibilities on top of some tricky groups of kids, has left me feeling like I'm pulling my hair out on multiple occasions! I've been working so hard, but teaching is a job that you can never "give enough" in - there is always something more you could do, more times you could mark, more hours you could spend on planning lessons. None of that necessarily makes you a better teacher - it just makes you more tired, and your work/life balance more and more skewed.

After a challenging first half term, therefore, I knew I needed to make the absolute most of my half term break. We started the weekend with a lovely walk around the forest at Long Hanborough, 10 minutes away in leafy Oxfordshire. Ayra was so thrilled to have me "back" for the week, available for cuddles and meandering, explorative walks whenever she wanted, instead of hurried, dark, early morning necessity-strolls. We ran and played throughout the trees, spotting deer through the shadows, and came home to share bacon sandwiches.


Sunday, 10 September 2017

Weekend Antics: 'Me' Time

The dreaded end of the summer holidays: those last two weeks trickle away like quicksand, time slipping through your fingers as the Big Return looms like a dark cloud over you. It's not even that the return to school is something to dread, but it is the start of structured days and marking loads, seating plans and tricky customers, where the previous weeks have stretched by in holidays, lie-ins, dog walks and lunches out. I love my job, but I love the summer holidays, too!

Those last two weeks passed me in the blink of an eye for a variety of reasons: it was *gulp* my 26th birthday, and I managed to both catch a stomach bug which left me throwing up and fainting, and damage a disc in my lower back and injure a ligament. Mobility limited, stomach churning, and patience waning, it was one of the least fun bank holiday birthdays I've had for some time. After several visits to the osteopath to get me back upright, I decided it was therefore time to treat myself for the last weekend before the return to school as my birthday weekend had been such a dud. Teachers are notoriously rubbish at making 'me' time, so dammit, I was going to be that guy, just this once at least.

We had a weekend filled with birthday celebrations for other nearests and dearests, and although I still wasn't firing on all cylinders health-wise it was lovely to see everyone and socialise before I disappeared into a hole of work. My promise to myself this school year is to create balance in my life: I am aiming to be in work for 7:15 every morning, meaning I must not stay later than 5pm at night, preferrably 4pm latest. Burning the candle at both ends left me frantic, stressed and overwhelmed last year and it really did not leave me more productive or even able to produce better lessons or feedback. Consolidating my work time into set hours is both for my mental health and to hopefully increase my productivity, as well as allowing me time to be a better partner, friend, and daughter. A snappy stress ball is, after all, not the most appealing companion.

Step 1 of operation 'Me' was to book in to have eyelash extensions. It's something I wanted to do in time for holiday, but as a last-minute sort of person I unfortunately left it a little late. However, for my birthday present to myself I made sure it did happen.


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Berlin: European Adventure


(Psst, if you haven't read my last post, have a read through it here!)

For our summer holiday this year, Tom and I decided to embark on a mini European adventure. After a few wonderful days in Amsterdam, we caught an evening flight to Berlin, Germany. This was both mine and Tom's first time not only to Berlin, but to Germany itself. When I had interrailed through Europe two years before, everyone that I met raved about Berlin's beauty and nightlife. I knew then that I had to go to experience it for myself.


Thursday, 17 August 2017

Amsterdam: European Adventure

For our summer holiday this year, Tom and I decided to plan a mini European adventure. I have been interrailing by myself before, and Tom flew out to meet me then in Amsterdam, my final destination. We had the best time, and I'd have loved for us to Interrail further afield together this time, but funds and work committments prevented this from being a possibility. Instead, we decided to return to Amsterdam as the flights were so affordable, and to investigate what Berlin has to offer, as this was the one destination that everyone I met whilst travelling recommended most highly. Thanks to Skyscanner, Agoda, Hostel World and a fair few evenings of bargain searching, a week later we were off!

This post in particular will focus on the Amsterdam leg of our journey...Berlin soon to follow!


Sunday, 6 August 2017

Pawbo *sponsored post*

As a working pet owner, one of the main issues you face is guilt. In a perfect world I would be at home with Ayra all the time, but sadly for the majority of pet owners that is just not a feasible reality. I have bills to pay, with rent being the biggest expenditure, and making sure Ayra is safe and warm and sheltered is part of that. That doesn't mean leaving your pet whilst you go to work ever stops sucking, and it really does make me feel guilty every day.

We are lucky to be surrounded by a really great support network; my mum has Ayra two days a week and Tom's step mum also helps us out loads and often at short notice. But for three (sometimes four) days a week we rely on a petsitter. We have had several petsitters and have finally found the best fit for us; she is excellent, she loves the dogs she walks and Ayra adores her. Ayra is taken for a two hour walk in the middle of the day with a group of other canine companions she gets to play and socialise with. It means she gets out and about, has the chance to go to the toilet and stretch her legs, and it stops me worrying about her being left at home quite so much. It breaks up her day and means she's not on her own.

However, when Pawbo approached me about their wireless interactive pet camera, I leapt at the chance. No matter how much I trust my dog or my petsitter, there is something about leaving your pet that keeps you worrying. They are a member of your family, and there are so many horror stories about burglaries, house fires, irresponsible dog walkers and the like, that you can't help but feel that niggle of concern. Was she really ok all day? Was she being walked for the time we thought she was? Was she distressed being left? Was she barking? Now was the time to find out...


Saturday, 29 July 2017

Liverpool - Blink 182 and Staying in University Accommodation

For Christmas, Tom got me a most excellent present - tickets to see Blink 182! I was lucky enough to see them once in their original line up when I was around 12/13, and it was one of the best experiences of my teenage years. As a drummer myself, Travis Barker was my absolute icon, and I know very few '90s kids who weren't raised on Enema of the State and Take off your Pants and Jacket.

I was thrilled; I couldn't wait to see what Matt Skiba (from another of my favourite teen bands, Alkaline Trio) brought to the line up, and the general nostalgia of the experience had me itching to get going.

The only slight snag in the plan was that the tickets were for their Liverpool gig - a fair old slog from quaint old Oxfordshire. Term time was so frantically busy in those final weeks that this detail mostly escaped us, and before we knew it, the weekend of the gig was looming. My excitement was mildly tempered by the fact that it was a 3-4 hour journey and on every feasible hotel site I searched, the prices for rooms near to the Echo Arena seemed fairly extortionate. Factoring in our petrol and ticket costs, we really didn't want to spend £150 for a single night away on top of that...time to get thrifty.

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