I stumbled upon my Life | 2015 post recently and found it so very strange to read about University. University feels like it was years ago and I guess it is getting to that stage, but to think in May 2015 I was still at university, in my little house in Newcastle-Under-Lyme - it's just hard to believe.
And now 2016 has been a gone. For me personally it's not been a bad one by any means, I've stepped into a new job, I've been to new places and celebrated three years with Michael. I may not yet have my own place, a car or a puppy, but everything else is pretty fine and dandy.
So, want to hear a little more about the stories behind my year in photos?
Scotland | The year began with the usual working hours, cold mornings and cosy weekends under the duvet, but in mid-January we were en route for our first getaway of the year. Typically, the car wouldn't start in the early hours of the morning but we managed to get it going and it got us safely up to Arrochar, Argyll for a holiday by Loch Lomond in a lovely cabin with a hot tub. There was a little snow on the drive up but it really started to fall once we had safely arrived. It was a pretty magical place and we headed off on some nice treks around the area and there were some truly incredible views. You can read more about my holiday in Scotland, here!
Annie's | February was a fairly quiet month going from memory. There was a big annoucement at work early in the month and it spurred me on to start looking for a new challenge in my career. Aside from that, we finally took the time to go to Annie's Burger Shack - which you can read a review of here!
Frank | In March I celebrated my birthday with my boyfriend, my work friends and then travelled down to Cornwall to celebrate it with my family. The weather wasn't too bad either which made for pleasant strolls on the beach. Besides seeing my human family, seeing my beautiful cat, Frank, always makes the long train journey home so worthwhile.
Driving around the Veil | In April, we met up with a new friend Michael had recently made and he very kindly let us take a ride in his Lotus. Whilst it wasn't too pleasant for myself and his wife squished into the back seats, which by the way, would barely fit your weekly food shop in, the drive was quite fun. We drove around the Veil of Belvoir, which is nice open roads, it was also a beautiful day which took away some of the unpleasantries of being squished into the back of a sportscar.
My last drink at Keele | It seems so long ago that we all graduated however one of my closest friends from University, Faye, only graduated earlier this year having completed her Masters in Pharmacy. The three of us graduates took our very last opportunity to return to Keele and hit up the Union for a few last rounds. Looking around, it was mostly unrecognisable faces, as expected, and I felt somewhat alien and also quite snooty, particularly towards the girl in the queue outside who tried to describe the inside of the Union to me - Thanks HUN, but I was here before you even knew where Keele existed - and that was probably along the lines of what I said to her in my intoxication, but less aggressive. All in all, it was a good night! In May I also took the plunge and finally got some better blonde highlights in my hair. It's something I've wanted to do for so long and in fact did do once but it went horribly wrong with a home-dye kit and I ended up with a ball of lost hair and looking like the amber traffic light. Sensibly, this time round I approached the professionals and was chuffed with the result. Since having it initally dyed I have returned to slowly get those strawberry blonde tones out, but I don't want it too light so I'm still experimenting a bit!
Catch-Ups & New Starts | Before her boyfriend made the big move to Sheffield to live with Faye's parents, I made a visit myself and Faye and I had a pretty good night out. I've found nights out in Sheffield are very hit and miss, but this was a good one! Faye also paid her first visit to Nottingham and off we went to Annie's Burger Shack, followed by a bit of shopping and a tea break at M&S. I also caught up with a friend, Hannah, from Nottingham whom I see infrequently due to life constantly getting in the way and had some lovely tapas at a place called Escabeche. The main highlight in June was starting my new job, in the building opposite to my old job. I took a nice step in my career and I'm headed in a positive direction.
A month for exploring | Where didn't I go in July? Well, abroad for one. However, I did manage to get around this country a fair bit. Early in July, I was invited along to the races in Doncaster, where everyone spent a lot of money on Champagne and I got very drunk off of it, made a tit of myself in front of my friends' friends and then went to work the next day and moaned a lot. Despite the fact I didn't win the only bet I placed, it was an experience! Following that, in celebration of Michael finishing his final Pharmacy exam and his Pre-Registration placement, I booked a little getaway for us in Chester. Living under his parents roof is hardly a twenty-something couples dream, so to get away from everything and everyone was just what we both needed! We enjoyed the spa facilities at Rowton Hall Hotel and paid a visit to Chester Zoo and the Cheshire Oaks retail outlet. The zoo was much more fun though! Later in the month, with Michael waiting to hear back about his exam he made the effort to get even more qualified and we took a trip down to Cardiff so he could attend a seminar for flu jab training.
On the road again | We went exploring in the Derbyshire Dales and found a few caves and climbed some great big hills.
After receiving his pass and officially becoming a qualfied pharmacy (woo!), Michael picked up a few shifts of Locum work before we headed off down to Cornwall...again! It was great to have the car this time, as when I'd been down alone in March I certainly felt much less mobile. On route to Sennen, Michael took a detour and we headed to Gwithian instead and we were more than happy to stay! We came back day after day, even took my niece and nephew on a lovely day out. My nephew wasn't overly enthused after discovering the water was freezing cold, so we dropped him back home to my sister and took the more enthusiastic child back to the beach! Michael and I also went out for a meal with my Mum and Dad, to Kota in our village, Porthleven. It was hands down the best food I've ever tasted!
A gift from France | My September was a relatively dull one, of course I caught up with Faye (which is never dull) but for the rest of the time I was working non-stop. On the other hand, my boyfriend, the lucky devil, had a nice little five day getaway on his friends' family yacht! He did watersports, went to casinos and beach party's, tried snails and expensive wines - whilst I twiddled my thumbs at home and then toddled off to Faye's house, whose boyfriend was also off on said holiday. Kindly, Michael bought back a gift of French macarons when he returned, which I savoured, and even more kindly, Faye's boyfriend promised a holiday with the two of us girls in tow in 2017 (and the flights are booked already!).
Some Bro time | I rarely see my brother now I've moved away from Keele. During my final year of University he was only a 10 or so minute walk away, but now I've moved to Nottingham we're an hour or so train apart and he's working nights and weekends, whilst I work weekdays. It's not easy to find a time when we're both free, but during some scheduled holiday we managed to catch up and headed off to Manchester for a change of scenery.
Some girl time | November was kicked off with a visit to London to celebrate Jenna's birthday. Now, we've all been friends with Jen for years, but three of us live in and around the midlands and Yorkshire, whilst Jen lives in the outskirts of London. We have a stronghold in Sheffield, aka Faye's family home, that we turn to for most celebrations due to location and space, but after declining an invite last year (because we all had plans for Halloween already, not because we were horrible friends), we made this the year to go to London and didn't regret it. We spent the Friday night knocking back a few drinks whilst watching films, and then experienced the Junkyard Golf Club in Soho, which was great fun! Drinking plus crazy golf - genius idea! Following that, we headed off to a surprisingly reasonably priced bar, enjoyed a short visit to it's rooftop bar - which everyone soon left after pitying me shivering around an open fire pit, wrapped in three blankets because ice runs through my veins - and spent an unreasonable £80 to get back to Jen's house in a taxi. All in all, it was a lovely weekend getaway!
Home | Never one to turn down the opportunity for a visit back to Cornwall, I booked my Christmas holiday and this year, Michael joined us for a Christmas at the Goode's too. I started off December moving into a new team at work and looking after a new area, but I didn't have much time to settle in before my holiday came about. We headed down to Cornwall and found ourselves stood behind the crash barrier on the M1 within about 4 or so hours. Our car engine decided to cut out as we plodded happily along in the third lane on the motorway. Safe to say we shat ourselves a little, but help arrived and we were given a courtesy car for the time we were home whilst ours was repaired. I had the chance to catch up with my closest friend, Becky, and even went on a night out for the first time in the town next to me. I bumped into so many people I went to school with, one of whom exclaimed in her drunken state 'I thought I'd never see you again!'. I agreed, other than the very few I still remain friends with, I never expected to see anyone from school again except on social media. Michael and I prepped the dinner on Christmas Eve and were the designated chef's for the big day, and it all went down brilliantly. We didn't leave the house for a Christmas walk, and we didn't take nearly enough photos, but in general it was a lovely day surrounded by family.
I know 2016 has been a hard time for many, especially those who have lost loved ones and idols. Unfortunately loss is a reality of life and no one can promise 2017 will be any better, but I hope for everyone it's everything they want it to be.
For me, 2017 IS the year I will get a flat of my own!