Hello Stranger

I’ve been sat in the same spot, full of food and drink, for so long that my eyes are heavy and my bum hurts. I’ve still no idea how I want to begin this chapter. Or even what it is this chapter should be called.

‘Small fish, big pond’ was my first thought. That does sum it up really well. I thought I was finding my way in the world when I moved back to Cardiff for my second year, but I was very wrong. When you’re at university you’re in a world of your own. The world outside of university is much bigger and in general, people are much meaner. Stumbling through just doesn’t cut it.

Okay, it isn’t all as bad as it sounds. I’ve had the best of years so far! I got a temporary job as an administrator and for a bit I had it all figured out. I went to Milan. I saw Adele at the O2. If I were good enough at living in the present I think life would seem pretty easy. I’m back to living with the parents. The fridge is always full of food. My washing often disappears from the laundry basket before I even fill it. The heating comes on. I’m reunited with old friends…

It’s looking to the future that makes being a graduate so hard. For many of us, the future is bleak. We’re in limbo. We’re feeling 22, except we’re not Taylor Swift, we don’t have a record deal and we aren’t as pretty either. I think I know where I want to be, but I’m not quite sure how to get there. I kind of have a plan, but it keeps falling through.

Moan, moan, grumble, grumble. I know I love to write. I always have done. So for now, this blog can be my saving grace. I promise I’ll keep the grumbling to a minimum from here on in. After all, it’s not the end of the world. Really, my time in this world is only just beginning.

That works, Chapter Two: ‘It’s not the end of the world’.

Brown paper packages tied up with string

It’s Sunday again. The whole house smells of roast beef and I can’t stop smiling. Sunday’s are my favourite thing.

This week’s been a good’un. I’ve had a Cadbury creme egg with breakfast almost every day. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I didn’t wake up until eleven on Monday morning. It’s been what feels like an eternity since I slept in that long and I felt so good for it.  I jumped out of bed and headed downstairs to find that my grandparents, who’d been over for Easter Sunday, had stuck around. We had lunch while listening to Heart FM, who claimed to be playing the 100 happiest songs of all time.

That night I met a few friends for dinner. I had Bruschetta, BBQ Chicken Quesadillas AND a side of fries and discovered my eyes were most definitely bigger than my belly. We headed for cocktails afterwards, simply because none of us were ready for the night to end when we left the restaurant. Tuesday we went bowling. I was the only one in velcro shoes, as per, and I ordered a slush puppy for old time’s sake. I got a couple of strikes, but I didn’t do as well as I wanted to. I very nearly beat one of the guys in a game of pool afterwards though. Wednesday I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in literally years. I had a singing lesson that evening and surprisingly, considering I really didn’t sing that well, I came away from it feeling like conquering life.

One of my bestest friends and I made it our mission to get fit this year. We joined a fitness class in January and much to my surprise, we didn’t drop out after the first couple of weeks! Our instructor’s been amazing and, much to our dismay, she’s upping and moving to Spain. Wednesday night we went along to her leaving dinner. I ordered fish and chips when I definitely should have ordered the lasagna. That aside, we had a great evening. Here’s hoping whoever takes over is as good at kicking us into action as she was.

I met two lovely ladies for lunch on Thursday. The sun was out, and I wore my sunglasses and that made me ridiculously happy.

That afternoon I had a job interview. Yep, that’s right, a job interview! It went really well and I’m hoping I’ll hear from them very soon. I’m venturing into the world of Primary School education. For a while I’ve been considering a PGCE. I spend so much time ranting and raving about how the education system is going down hill, how I’d love to inspire and encourage the next generation and how teachers are the most amazing people on the planet, I figure I really should step up and at least try it. I’m applying for Teaching Assistant positions, planning to get some experience first of all.

I’ve started scrapbooking too! It’s not going very well, but I’m enjoying it all the same. I started in a pad I found in the cupboard. I’m considering it a draft. I want to buy one of them snazzy Paperchase ones when I finally get another job.

This week has been conclusively better than last week. Sometimes, it takes hitting a bit of a low to get you moving. How can you pick yourself up if you’re already on a high?

My mum just called to say roast dinner’s ready, bang on cue. Onwards and upwards from here.

Not all who wander are lost

This week, unlike last week, I had very little planned. The Alzheimer’s Society had bagseed me to help them out on Thursday, but nothing else was even penciled in my diary. I spent Sunday night at the pub with a great group of people and another night playing cards with some of them too. I’ve finished season one of House M.D and I’ve made absolutely no progress with the scrapbook. Last I heard, the teaching agency who interviewed me last week are still waiting on my references, so no news on the job front just yet either.

I’ve been spending a joyful amount of time outdoors. I love this time of year, if not for the obvious reasons, just because I rediscover my spirit of adventure. As much as I love cosy nights in, my fluffy slippers and galaxy hot chocolate, I can’t help but dream all winter of light evenings and Pimms and lemonade and fruit salad and days spent sat in a dress and sandals in the sunshine with a good book.

On Tuesday, my boyfriend (Dave from here on in. There’s something about the word boyfriend that makes me squirm) and I had a whole day free to spend together for the first time in a very long time. He picked me up and we just drove a little while in the hope of finding somewhere new to explore. We ended up at Danbury Common and before long we were lost in the woods. Well, I was lost. Dave’s sense of direction got us back to the car no trouble at all when we decided it was time for food. It’s an amazing place and although I’m sure it looks even prettier in the summer, I think we timed our visit perfectly: There were still muddy puddles to be avoided and there were still piles of leaves around for me to stomp through like a child. It was warm enough, but not so hot we had to stop every few minutes for water.

I met one of my oldest friends at a country pub for lunch on Wednesday and like in all the best stories, we just found ourselves full of food and headed up a path that would take us on an adventure towards a lovely village I’d never been to before. This story gets most exciting when we see a very angry looking grey cloud in the distance, but take our chances and carry on going anyway. Half an hour later we’ve been hit with rain and hail and wind and we’re hiding in a bus shelter shivering, we’re drenched and we can’t stop laughing at how ridiculous the whole situation is.

You only have to mention Essex before stereotypes spring into the minds of anyone listening. I’m sure you’re now thinking about fake tan before I’ve even had chance to say the words beautiful and countryside. I’m not saying that the stereotypes aren’t true. (In fact I can personally testify to the fact that the majority of them are, but that we wouldn’t have it any other way.) I’m just saying that it is a shame that people don’t know just how beautiful Essex is, particularly on a sunny day.

When the rain and hail subsided and the skies cleared, we finished our walk in bright sunshine and everything around us shone and I couldn’t help but wish every person on Earth could see what I was seeing.

My winter boots are done for. We didn’t avoid all the mud on Tuesday and I certainly couldn’t keep them dry on Wednesday and now I think they’ve had enough. They’re also the reason for the massive blisters on my heels, but I’ll let them off the hook: They’ve lasted me well and honestly, I cannot wait to go and invest in a pair of summery trainers and some new sandals. After all, spring is here.

Peri-Peri: A spice so nice it’s been named twice

Surely not? Surely it can’t be Sunday again.

Not much has changed. I might have a job, but as long as I have to put the word might in that sentence I’m not getting carried away. My nose will not stop running. I’ve rediscovered the wonder of lip balm and my love for Avril Lavigne. I’ve also used ‘deliveroo’ for the first time ever and ordered Nandos chicken to be delivered. That blew my mind.

I spent this weekend in London. For those of you who don’t already know – London is my favourite place to be in the whole wide world. Admittedly, I still have much of the world to see, but of all the cities I’ve been to, it is by far the best. It is the one place on Earth that isn’t home, but feels like home. It is the only place I can go, that I never want to leave.IMG_20160417_132001

I was visiting one of my oldest friends and I was ridiculously excited.

I made it up and out of bed early Saturday morning to head to a fitness class. I nearly didn’t make it off the sofa again once I’d got home, cooked bacon and sat down in front of the TV, but I got up the stairs, dressed and packed eventually. I was in a world of my own for the entirety of the train journey in and I don’t think I completely woke from my daydreams until the moment I saw my friend outside the station.

That was one of them good kind of moments. You don’t really notice at the time, but one of them you can’t help looking back at through rose-tinted glasses. I saw her, my face lit up and, as I quickly began to realise just how much I’d missed her and how happy I was to be there, we hugged. In my head the sun came out at that moment, but if I’m honest, the weather was pretty gloomy.

I got through two cups of tea while we caught up on life. Then we ended up on the ‘deliveroo’ website and before long Nandos was on its way. We put the last episode of Gossip Girl on while we waited (always my go-to time filler) IMG_20160416_182501and it arrived just in time for my tummy to start rumbling. I couldn’t have been happier munching on my butterfly chicken (medium – I’m not a wimp, but I’m not that brave either) and my creamy mash and knowing Michael McIntyre was soon to be on the TV. I got peri-salted chips too, but shh.

We thoroughly enjoyed Michael’s Big Show, very nearly fell asleep when the credits started rolling, but picked ourselves up and headed out for cocktails. Three cocktails later we wandered home and fell asleep very shortly after our heads hit our pillows.

The sun really was shining brightly today. We had nutella on toast for breakfast and then we put our tourist hats on. We spent some time wandering aimlessly, enjoying the sunshine and taking photos and I must have said the words ‘I love’ and ‘this place’ a zillion times. Eventually we ended up in a really lovely pub serving even lovelier roast dinners.

I always leave London feeling like anything is possible. Right now, all I want to do is curl up with Dave and binge watch TV, but I feel like this week I might just conquer life. Even if all I do is get on with my scrapbook, get outdoors even more, get an update from my teaching agency and finish my book.

London I Love You, xoxo

Time isn’t wasted if you enjoyed wasting it

This week, I almost gave up on Plan A, get a job in a primary school, all together. I’ve had my moody-face on. Somehow, I had managed to convince myself that every day spent out of work was a waste of life. I’d been searching for a job in teaching for just a month and a half and already, I had become convinced that all hope was lost.

It took my dad pointing out that a month and a half is no time at all, for me to come to my senses. I also think I eventually talked it through enough times to realise that whatever path I take in the future, I need to do this first. Getting into a classroom, getting some experience and finding out whether teaching is for me is exactly what I need to do. Until I know just how much I’m going to love it, I can’t possibly decide what on earth to do next. I can’t give up just yet. Especially not now: I’ve found myself an agency whose consultants match my level of enthusiasm. They’ve signed me off for work and this time there’s actually a job on the horizon. Watch. This. Space.

How I found the time to grumble I will never know.

This week, Dave and I booked a spontaneous trip to the cinema. I face-swapped with a minion. I caught up with two lovely ladies who adult better than I ever will. An amazing friend who obviously knows the way to my heart, cooked me a Mexican dinner: She made her guacamole from scratch. Doesn’t get much better than that.  I finally gave in and grabbed myself some gym clothes that I actually feel confident in. (They were in the sale, so my conscience is clear.) AND I road-tripped to Reading with the lads to visit our friend who flew the nest and refuses to come back. We forgive him for that on the basis that trips over to his for the weekend are such good fun. Who doesn’t love an excuse to jump in their car on a Friday night, with some of their best friends and head to a free house for the weekend?

Conclusively, I am a complete wally for nearly giving up so quickly, for thinking I should have everything figured out already and for forgetting who I am.

After all, I’m the girl who has always truly believed you cannot waste time having fun.

Hip Hip Hip Hip Hooray

I’m sat at my desk, the sun has got its hat on, Passenger’s album ‘All the Little Lights’ is whizzing ’round the record player and I’m making my way through a massive mug of tea. I can’t contain my excitement: It’s GAME OF THRONES DAY. 

Last week, I worked my first day in a school! I was ridiculously nervous; I think I forgot to breathe for the first two hours after I arrived, but when I got back home at the end of the day I was feeling positive. I had a really good day. Everything came to me surprisingly naturally and I was in my element being back in the school environment again. I was too busy getting stuck in to sit back and think too much so I haven’t made any big life decisions yet, but I loved it. I know that much.

In October 2013, I wrote a post called ‘Busy is Best’.

You’ll find it in Chapter One, Finding Bronwen:  https://bronwensamantha.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/537/.

When I went back to university for my second year, I very quickly discovered that I was noticeably happier when I kept myself busy. To this day, I swear by it. A busy life is a happy one; for me at least. Time to think has never done me much good. A day in with my best mate Netflix only ever turns my brain to moosh.

I’ve had a wonderfully busy week. I’ve been to the cinema and I’ve been out for dinner. I popped into town for cheap work clothes. I’ve been to work. I went along to a fundraising quiz night, in aid of a brave young girl who has been diagnosed with a rare terminal illness and whose family are raising money for her treatment*. Saturday was such a long day that when I woke up Sunday morning I blamed my aching muscles on the dancing I’d done Saturday night, forgetting about the fitness class I’d done first thing Saturday morning. Yesterday was spent eating BBQ food and drinking Prosecco to celebrate my beautiful twin cousins’ birthday. I cannot believe they are going to be 18.  I’ve also come to realise that keeping busy isn’t the only thing that makes me happy: I’ve done a singing practice every day without fail. I don’t think I’ve truthfully been able to say that since I finished my degree.

I’d began to forget just how much joy singing brings me. Tuesday, I rang Dave at the end of the first proper singing practice I’d done in ages. I tried to explain in words how I felt and how much it meant to me. I tried to explain how it had made me feel and in the end I just told him that nothing compares to it. Nothing gives me more freedom than singing. Nothing makes me feel stronger and nothing makes me happier.

I’m off to set up at the piano for a little while. If you can, go play your favourite song at top volume and whether you think you can or not, sing along at the top of your voice. After all, I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing. 

 

*Follow the link to donate to help fund treatement for Phoebe Flo: https://www.gofundme.com/phoebeflo

Musn’t Grumble

Recap: In my last post I was feeling great. I was back on the singing band wagon and I was happily busy and I was all set to go off and conquer life. Ironically, the day after I published my last post I was hit by a cold that came with a nasty sore throat and had to refrain from singing for a few days.

I couldn’t sing, but I did keep busy as ever. I managed to do another few days work in a school and volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Society for a day too. I spent a beautiful afternoon in the sun with Dave. I also went along to my fitness class as per usual. Middle of the day on Saturday, two of my best friends turned up on my doorstep dressed for a day in the sun. We decided to head to Tesco for BBQ food. The weather was amazing last weekend and we had the best of days. I’m actually smiling just writing about it.27dd8f73bccfd8085a3ec425a641004783ae4f9f_full

This week’s been exhausting. In fact, if I’d tried to write this post a couple of days ago I’m sure I just would have grumbled about being tired and feeling anxious and about the gloomy weather forecast for the weekend. The positivity that oozed from my last post would have been non-existent. I’d have never imagined that I could feel as optimistic as I do now.

Start of this week, I got what I think was food poisoning, which kind of stopped me in my tracks all together. I was just getting back on my feet after the cold, I’d enjoyed another busy week and then one of life’s lemons came flying out of nowhere. Musn’t grumble now though… Once I’d regained my strength I did three days work in another school! AND they would like to hire me on an ongoing basis! It’s been challenging so far, but I’ve actually really enjoyed it too. I’m gaining valuable experience and working with an amazing team of people. The school is for pupils with challenging behaviours and statements of Special Educational Needs and the more time I spend there, the more I think I might have to stick around. I found it particularly hard this week, because I don’t think I ever properly got over being ill. This weekend I’ve done nothing but chill and touch wood I think it’s done the trick.

largeI’m really excited about the few weeks ahead. In fact, I’m beginning to believe that when, on New Years Day, I said I thought 2016 was going to be my year, I just might have been right. I know that’s a big leap considering, but I feel good. I’m busy, I’m singing again AND working in schools so far has been really fulfilling. I’m finally beginning to take things in my stride. The butterflies have been around more than ever, but they haven’t stopped me taking each day as it comes. I kind of see what they mean when they say the world is my oyster.

I think I’m beginning to work out what kind of life I want to lead and just in time for my 22nd birthday. One week to go and I’m just beginning to get a little excited. It’ll be my first birthday celebrated at home in 4 years and it’s on a Sunday. I couldn’t be more chuffed.

So here we go again. Here’s hoping that this time next week there’ll be nothing worth moaning about. Going to get an early night tonight and hit the ground running tomorrow. BRING IT ON.

“If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out of the corner of your eye” – Tim Minchin

I’ll start with the job. It’s going really well I think. It’s hard work, but I’m enjoying it. The last time I wrote, I was still recovering from food poisoning. I was right to assume that was making life harder. Don’t get me wrong, the week after was difficult, but nowhere near as much so. This half term finishes tomorrow and I’ve told the school I’ll go back after the break. I never would have expected to end up in a job like it, but I’m glad I did. There’s so much more to say, but I also don’t want to say too much: I’m off to a good start and a breach of confidentiality might blow it all. In the interest of staying professional, my lips are sealed.

Life outside of the new job is pretty wonderful. I come home feeling like, in my little patch of this world, I’ve done some good. It feels good to be working hard and I’m proud to be challenging myself. That’s given me such a boost in general. Coming home from my office job was always a miserable affair. I was knackered, my brain hurt and I just wanted bed most days. I don’t miss that one bit.

I’M FEELING 22. Yep, my birthday’s been and gone. Birthday’s are amazing things. I’m so glad that at some point in our past human kind decided we should celebrate the date of our birth each year. I spent this birthday just chilling at home, listening to my new vinyl records, eating lots and drinking Prosecco and I loved it. I couldn’t have been happier. I woke up next to Dave at 5 in the morning and decided that was a little too soon to be waking everyone up. I woke again at half 7 but again, thought it was a little early. I eventually got up at 9 and got straight in the shower. I was ready in a flash and when I got downstairs my mum was making tea and frying bacon and my grandparents were there with hugs and birthday wishes. A massive chicken was out ready to be roasted. I’m a child at heart and I was so excited. I was spoilt rotten and by the end of the day I couldn’t stop smiling.

If you’re thinking that’s all a little too tame for a 22nd birthday celebration, I’m off to Reading with friends again this weekend and I’m certain they’ll make sure I get the necessary boogie-ing and drinking done.

Lastly, one of my best friends shared the below video with me the other day. It rocked my world. The remarkable comedian and musician that is Tim Minchin just sums it all up. He hits the nail on its head. THIS is how I want to live my life from here on in: (Now, I know it’s a long video but stick with it. At least watch the first 11 minutes and 52 seconds. It’s inspirational.)

Adventure of a Lifetime

Oh my goodness, where to start?

I did go to Reading to celebrate being 22, yet again. I turned up and my wonderful friends were waiting with cards and presents which made me ridiculously happy. Our night out started with Prosecco and ended with MacDonald’s, need I say more? If you’ve never tried MacDonald’s cheesy bites, be sure to do so next time you go. They’re the bee’s knees.

Life goes on. I’m still enjoying my work. It’s been a couple of weeks since half term break and I’m still going strong. I must admit that a week off at half term got me used to the easy life again and that I was worried about getting back into the swing of things. I needn’t have stressed though, getting back into it was easy as pie! If anything I went back to work after half term feeling more confident, even if I’d managed to catch a horrid cough.

I’ve had a bit of a revelation in that I think maybe it’s the care and therapeutic support side of my job I prefer to the teaching side (dun, dun, dunnn), but I’m still not making any real plans for the future. I’m going to keep crossing bridges as I come to them and setting short term goals, Tim Minchin style. I think I want to work with people, helping people. Perhaps I’ll look into Music Therapy, do some research and see where that takes me. Maybe I could do a masters in a couple of years time? The prospect sounds amazing, but baby steps.  

This week, I went to see Coldplay at Wembley! We headed into London early so we could set up somewhere and catch the football. The England v Wales game was a good’un; it kept us all on the edge of our seats. Even I squealed when we went and got that goal in the 92nd minute.

Coldplay put on such an amazing show. There were bouncy balls in the audience and lots of confetti and fireworks. They sang all the crowd pleasers and some extras. They made beautiful tributes to David Bowie and Muhammad Ali and I cried. They did an acoustic section as well as performing all out on the main stage. I don’t know what gives Chris Martin all his endless energy, but whatever it is, I want some.

It was such a good day. I’d give almost anything to relive the moment when the pub full of fans erupted because England scored or the moment when I looked up at the open roof of Wembley stadium and literally saw ‘A sky full of confetti stars’.

Other than that, I’ve spent a lot of time recently just chilling at my best friends’ houses and loving it. I went to see X-Men Apocalypse, which I thought was REALLY enjoyable. I’ve been keeping up to date with Game of Thrones… AHHHH. I’m going to be helping my singing teacher out at a choir she runs, which should be good fun. My friend and I are still keeping up the fitness classes… just. We missed a couple, but we made up for that by doing two last week.

Tomorrow’s Father’s Day and we’re spending it at my grandparents house and I’m really looking forward to a proper chilled Sunday before another week of work. I might finally get on with this scrapbook of mine, or at least finish my book. I’m reading Life of Pi and I’m half way through and so far, it is awesome.

On that note, all that’s left to say is an early Happy Father’s Day to my dad (who just happens to be the best dad in the world) and to all the wonderful dad’s out there. If any of you are reading, I hope you have the best of days. Tomorrow, the tv controller really is all yours and you’re free to make as many dad jokes as you fancy. Enjoy it while it lasts.

British Summertime

It’s a funny kind of day today. Not sunny enough for long enough to sit outside, but sunny enough to make you feel guilty for sitting indoors. It’s warm when the sun’s out, but chilly when it’s not. I’m sat indoors, but I’m sat near the window if that counts for anything. 

*sighs* I’ve got that ‘end of the weekend’ feeling. At least I think that’s what it is. I’ve sat for about an hour and a half now wondering where all my enthusiasm for life is gone. I’m wondering how on Earth I’m going to write a chirpy blog post when I can’t even remember why I was so happy when I woke up this morning. As far as Dave knows, I’m keeping up with the Euros and I enjoy watching a good football match, but when he said he wanted to watch the match this afternoon I could have bitten his head off. I am the definition of melancholy. This week has been fantastic and yet the look on my face right now is probably enough to convince anyone I’ve hit rock bottom. 

Before I get on to talking about how much I’m supposedly enjoying life in my Bronwen-size bubble, please know that I was appalled to find out that the British people have voted to leave the EU. I voted remain and I still can’t quite believe the majority of people didn’t.

I did have a lovely, chilled day at my grandparents last Sunday. My granny cooked an amazing roast dinner and I read a bit more of Life of Pi and I made a start on my scrapbook.

My weekday evenings were super busy. I did go along to help my singing teacher out at ‘Little to Big Voices’ and I was so impressed by all the talent amongst her pupils there. I saw episode 9 of Game of Thrones and it was EPIC and I won’t say anymore than that. I had dinner with one of my best friends. I went along to celebrate my Auntie’s birthday with her mid-download_20160627_130511week. She was so grateful to everyone for being there and her friends had bought her such lovely presents: It was a beautiful evening. I made it to a fitness class and believe me that was a challenge. I did a crazy amount of running around at work this week AND I went on a terrifying high ropes course with the kids. My legs and arms were killing me by the time Friday came around, but I was also feeling super positive about the job and the future.

My friend who’s off to Australia for six months had her Leaving Do yesterday. We BBQ’d all day (through sunshine and thunderstorms) and then went out out in the evening. I had such a good time and I hope she did too. I still can’t bear the thought of her going away for so long, but I just can’t wait to hear all about it when we skype.

I have a good feeling about this week. Adele’s 25 is now finally available for streaming which is going to make the drives to work much more enjoyable. On the topic of Adele, I cannot wait to watch her Glastonbury performance and reminisce about seeing her at the O2 back in March. It sounds like she took Glastonbury by storm. Pretty Little Liars Season 7 is out too. AND Episode 10 of Game of Thrones is on tomorrow night. In fact, there’s so much good tv I need to watch, who needs sunshine? Here’s hoping it rains all week so I can spend my evenings in bed catching up on tv, guilt-free. That cough is still bothering me, so maybe it’s about time I took a week to chill.