Life: Feeling Low

I normally get a little low in the dark and dull days that come after the New Year sets in. With a whole host of birthdays in December and early January, it’s always a little bit of an anti-climax when they’re over. And pretty much a good pep talk from myself, a bit of forcing myself to think happy thoughts, and everything is right as rain again. So when I sat in a pretty deep depression last week, it came as a little bit of a shock.

 photo 2014-09-13150354_zpsb756f772.jpgRegular readers will have noticed that only two posts went up. Colleagues noticed I had retreated into my shell. There were a few tearful nights, a few moments where I was perhaps a little short-tempered. But what worried me most of all was my lack of motivation. I didn’t want to do anything – not blog, not work towards a university deadline, no knitting, no cooking, no baking, it was even a no to online shopping. I pretty much just sat on my bed and was miserable. Luckily I have a great support network, and I was also able to recognise that I needed to do something quickly or it would only get worse.

I’ve started making an effort to get fresh air on my lunch break, which is easier now the local park is open again. On Monday I sat in my coat, in brilliant sunshine, eating my sandwich and reading a book. I then wasn’t tempted to nap at my desk, and I came home, cooked soup and was suitably productive.

A recommendation from his darkest days at university, my boyfriend told me to put the radio on if I’m feeling lonely. Surprisingly so much more effective than just music, I find myself feeling less alone even if there’s no one about.Still a student at heart (and remembering that’s what I will be again next September), I’m trying to learn that a little treat now and then isn’t bad. Whether it’s ingredients for my favourite meal, or even just a coffee on the way to work, little treats can really perk up my day. I treated myself to a hazelnut hot chocolate, topped with cream and marshmallows, last Friday. Best thing I’d done all week.

Helping others feel happy is also something which seems to give me a real buzz. The thanks I get when bringing a fresh batch of cakes into work puts a huge smile on my face, and it’s having double the effect this week as we’re raising money for a fantastic cause (you can read a bit more about our campaign here). 2014-09-28 10.14.21A fry up makes everything better. Fact. I went home this past weekend and had one both mornings. Bacon, eggs and toast are my staples, black pudding is a regular addition, though this weekend saw the return of a new favourite. Mushrooms fried in bacon fat. That size 8 dress I was dieting to fit into? I changed it for a 10… (in defence, it was tight on my hips which are stubbornly bony).

I’ve also tried to put less pressure on myself. Its not easy, as I’m such a perfectionist and I’ve never let myself off. Getting less than perfect marks? I’ll beat myself up about it for years (I can still get tearful about my A-Level results, and they were far from bad!). I forced myself not to type out a blog post I didn’t have the heart for. And to be honest, nothing bad happen. My views dropped by probably 20 a day, which is miniscule in the grand scheme of things. I still gained followers. So now I know the world doesn’t end when I don’t push myself to my limit, I can relax a little more. Have a long soak in the bath instead of rushing back to my laptop. Stand and cook a risotto without thinking of my to-do list. Eat a greasy fry-up without thinking of my hips…

 photo 2014-08-30143507_zps857050c4.jpgI’m now feeling much more happier having made some time for me. Sleep is coming slightly easier at night, though it would be great to not see midnight most nights. I’m still convinced the dull, dreary weather doesn’t help (if anyone wants a natural light box reviewing, I’m your SAD girl!) but making the most of my days is definitely helping keep me cheerful. I’m sure my laptop is grateful for the rest too…

What do you do when you’re feeling a little down?

Fashion: Sentimental Jewellery

This post was initially titled Everyday Jewellery, but I decided to change the title and not the content. No prizes for guessing why… photo 6d4ce0b4-4d39-42f5-b391-94ceb3fdcc2c_zpsdf75c289.jpgI’m not a fashionable person, and I don’t claim to me. I’ve found a way of dressing which seems to suit both my body shape and my lifestyle, but one of the things I really don’t think suits me is ‘costume jewellery’ – on a day-to-day basis I rarely deviate from some pieces special to me, and I doubt that will change anytime soon! Of course there’s always a few outfits where I like to dress up with a chunky necklace – I was sent a necklace from Sainsbury’s which I love for work, with a plain black skirt and white blouse. But generally here’s what I stick to each day;

 photo 20aa03e6-c630-4857-94d6-8269c963acdd_zpsb7e089fe.jpgMy bracelet is a LoveLinks, cheaper than Pandora (especially as I used to get a discount at the main jewellers selling this in my town, due to working in Debenhams) but amazingly classy with a huge choice of beads. It started off as an eighteenth present from my parents, with the bracelet part and a set of pre-selected white charms and some spacers. My boyfriend, equipped with an annotated version of the brochure, picked out two more lovely beads for me that birthday. I treated myself to one after my nose operation last year, and then it went unadded to until I start my placement this summer – both my parents and my boyfriend bought me one charm each. At the moment I’m unlikely to add to it until I can afford to fully complete it, as it’s at a nice fullness – and once its full I’m very tempted to start going along a different colour scheme, so I can switch it up when I need to. But when most of my clothes are pink/purple and berry tones, this suits me perfectly.

 photo 54ec73cc-566e-4db5-8be1-6f8ace081364_zps54e4546f.jpgThe ring is also immensely special to me, and also an eighteenth present. Long story short, my granddad had always planned to treat myself and my sister on our eighteenth to something special, but unfortunately he developed severe Alzheimers before either of us reached that goal – devastating, but my lovely nan kept his word and we picked out this delicate diamond and white gold ring. It’s not huge, mainly as I have teeny hands so anything bigger looks a little silly, but its just exactly what I wanted, and even three years on (I feel old!) I still love it. Plus the diamond is actually of amazing clarity, so sparkly…I’m a bit of a diamond lover, quality of them over size or quantity any day for me!

 photo d9b5ad09-db0b-4196-9034-a41fa3ddc5b4_zpse5226cc9.jpgMy watch is the result of months of searching for one that was slim enough not to look silly on my child-like wrists. I eventually fell in love with it, made by Radley, it’s tiny, but with a decent sized face, looks classy and it’s too masculine being light grey in colour. It’s also lasted surprisingly well given the thinness of the leather! It was slightly more than I wanted to pay, but hardly expensive compared to most watches you see around!

 photo 6a092e2a-d6ca-4575-a7a0-8337f18d3302_zpsfdade76b.jpgNow finally is my necklace, the most-worn piece of jewellery I’ve ever owned. The other two bits are lovely, and I wear them most days, but obviously for walking the dog, or lounging about, they’re just a bit OTT. This necklace I can honestly say rarely leaves my neck – the only times I’ve not worn it are either because it’s being cleaned, or I’ve snapped the chain. My boyfriend bought it for my on my 17th birthday, after less than two months together. I absolutely love it; its a gorgeous shape that’s not too childish, not too big, and it brings so many wonderful memories – that day may or may not have been when certain words were first uttered, so it’s a huge sentimental piece. My dream is to get it remade in white gold as the silver is starting to slightly tarnish, but I don’t want to let it leave my neck for a long time!

I had planned this post to be quite a quick, unemotional post, but it’s turned into quite the opposite – clearly I have a lot of emotional attachment to these pieces!

What’s your favourite piece of jewellery, and why? 

Lifestyle: Girly Date at The Chocolate Cafe, Canterbury

Looking back I didn’t visit the Chocolate Cafe in my second year at university, which is strange because I loved it in my first year. Me and my boyfriend would go on an evening, after a meal out, and cuddle up on one of the many armchairs dotted around. Chatting and catching up, coupled with hot chocolate. The waffles made it just about perfect.

 photo d5940928-cb76-49b2-b175-671d9b54f23c_zpse3027a74.jpgWhen I went to visit my university girls last weekend (I miss them so much!) the Chocolate Cafe was number one on our list for eats. To be honest, I’d have loved a visit to Pork & Co too, but you can’t have everything. And I did go and buy five bags of pork scratchings…Anyway, the Chocolate Cafe it was, after a visit to the new Primark, and the accidental purchase of a new winter coat.

 photo 93b14776-8d77-445c-a721-da5e9b919c2d_zps203d5cb4.jpgIt being suddenly Autumn, suddenly cold, and suddenly very rainy (24 hours earlier I’d been in a pub garden in a t-shirt?!), we were rather hungry, so descended on the savoury items, and the cakes, and the drinks. I pushed the boat out – hot chocolate, mozzarella and prosciutto toastie, and a green tea cake. Others went slightly healthier, choosing tea or juice. But damn, that hot chocolate was worth it! Perfectly thick, almost like melted chocolate but a little more liquid, smooth, and a great chocolatey flavour without being too sweet. Yum. The sandwich was good for a place specialising in the sweet side of things, although it could have been a little hotter, and the cheese wasn’t melted enough. Yummy combination of flavours though, and packed with filling for the price.

 photo 7b148e76-2ac5-4cfc-af97-b2affd48b4f0_zps21e44236.jpgNow my cake! Oh my cake. You probably can’t tell from these awful photos, complete with instagram filter (whoops!) but it was more cheesecake than cake. A light, slightly crunchy base, topped with a green tea cream, and then topped with a thick layer of white chocolate and lemon mousse. It was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten before, but it was utterly delicious. So light and refreshing, whilst being utterly indulgent.

 photo 65bb55ec-1f81-4963-a1fe-74988c9b88dc_zpsdb1d1d94.jpgOf course, I couldn’t stand paying by the chocolate display and not pick up a few, so I used “The Anniversary” as an excuse. I can’t remember what I picked out now, apart from a Blue Cheese and Walnut invention – so it’ll be a surprise when we dig in! We’ve eaten chocolates from there before in the past and they’ve delighted with their flavour combinations, so I’m looking forward to these. I’m hoping to have a few more chocolatey posts up over the next few weeks, as I’ve found some lovely little places which you *have* to visit!

Are you a chocolate lover?

What’s Occurring Wednesday: Young Love

There’s so much stigma on people falling in love at a young age these days. It’s not helped by the trend of the other young people – the sleeping around, the lack of commitment. I’d be the first one to admit that I never, ever, ever expected to be in a committed relationship from a young age. My plan was always to try and work abroad at the earliest opportunity.

Life however dealt me a slightly different card. Four years ago today I went round for an innocent dinner at a new friend’s house, and came back with a boyfriend. Despite insisting to my mum prior to going to the local boy’s school sixth form that I wasn’t interested in starting a relationship. Despite insisting to friends that day that I wasn’t sure I liked him (that was a lie). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never turned away from what I wanted because of him, but what I wanted has changed. Yes, I’ve gone to a university 150 miles away from him, but that placement year in America? Well, I’m working in Surrey. And loving it, I hasten to add! I certainly don’t feel I’m missing out!

I’ve had a lot of questions about whether I feel that being in a relationship has made university life more difficult, more boring. I have to say no. Yes, I sometimes miss occasions and parties because it falls on a visit weekend, but realistically I know I’d much rather be with him than not. Sometimes I miss out on girly nights in because of Skype dates, but those aren’t just nights sitting staring at my laptop. They are giggly chats, playing cute songs to each other, catching up with our lives, and generally just trying to pretend that there’s not the distance between us.

 photo 2014-09-13150145_zps6a3c57b6.jpgSome of the best couples I know met when they were relatively young. One of my besties (hi Libby!) has been with her boyfriend since they were 15; currently long-distance between here and America (hat’s off to them!). Another blogger Briar Rose got married at a young age and looks wonderfully happy – I’m not a teeny bit jealous of course! And of course there’s my wonderful parents – meeting one lunch time on a blind date, with my seventeen-year-old mum announcing to friends that night that she’s met ‘the one’, they’ve just celebrated 25 years of marriage.

 photo 1157450_10151785402043516_1823432763_n_zps74278bb0.jpgIt all goes to show that sometimes following your heart isn’t a bad thing. I’m so glad that, terrified as I was, I took the plunge and held his hand four years ago. I’m grateful that I had the courage to keep going when we started university, because it only made us stronger. And I’m thankful, and quite frankly amazed, that’s he’s put up with me for four years. Happy Anniversary – here’s to many more to come!

What’s Occurring Wednesday: September Favourites

I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone! The 12 months since last September has been pretty tough for me, but I’m pleased to say things are looking a lot brighter now. I’m pretty useless at regular series of posts so I thought I’d hide behind my WOW posts and occasionally post monthly favourites. Something I swore I’d never do as they actually drive me crazy. My favourites are going to be pretty lifestyle-y though, and hopefully not too many ‘posed’ photographs, with most being taken throughout the month. *justifying myself*

This month I’ve virtually lived in pyjamas. Being ill, tired and my living situation (living with three lab mixes = a lot of hair) means wearing proper clothes after work felt like a bit of a waste, so I’ve been climbing into PJs virtually straight away. I did invest in some slightly less ‘sleepy’ looking ones though – I’ve fallen in love with ones fitted at the ankle, and I could just about get away with popping to the corner shops in them if I really had to. I’ve actually stolen this image from Pinterest though (cheeky!)…I couldn’t find the one I took!

 photo 2014-09-27203207_zpsce380b12.jpgI’ve developed a bit of a peanut butter addiction. Not only have I taken to scooping it out of the jar with dark chocolate (shush!) and baking yummy treats with it, but I’ve been eating ice cream and hot drinks laced with the stuff. I loved the Peanut Butter hottie, although it was a little sweet. Perfect for before bed as it made me feel really sleepy. Shame about the price…

Our Zoo. I wasn’t expecting much from this program, but I was hooked from the first episode when I accidentally left my TV on after Bake Off. Such a good period drama – decent story line, believeable characters, some excellent acting (particularly from the vicar), and it’s nice to see something without any kind of sexual scenes. I’m no prude, but sometimes I just want something easy to watch on the train without funny looks from the person next to me…

Other than being ill, lazy and working, much of the past month has been spent starting to look for a dress for my 21st (less than 9 weeks to go!). Not sure whether I’m more excited about my birthday, or the fact that it will be the first bit of time I have off work since I started in July. I’m looking for something lacy but different, either in black, plum or a nice green/navy. Not too long, but I don’t mind a bit of cleavage. I’ve fallen in love with this dress (and this one) from Anthropologie, my new favourite shop. How gorgeous is the first one?! Way out of my budget though…

Fashion: Printed vs Traditional Satchels

You all know I love my satchels. From my massive customiser monster of a Patent Oxblood satchel*, to my traditional easy-open one (which I STILL haven’t blogged about – I have just written a note in my diary to photograph it), to my drag it up mountains pre-distressed grab-and-go*, to my pretty summery pink delight*, I just love them. Something about the shape of a satchel feels so right to me, pretty enough to go with dresses, but not overly feminine. They’re pretty practical too – I find the shape means things can only rearrange themselves so much. And obviously buckles are a pickpocketers nightmare.

Up until a few months ago I’d stuck solidly to plain (ish) leather satchels, but winning Kat Got the Cream’s giveaway meant I was able to try out a patterned fabric style. This bird-pattern is lovely, though admittedly not exactly my thing, and the satchel is clearly well made. A teeny bit small (it’s probably a 8-10 incher) it’s ideal for popping out to do the food shopping, or walking the dog. Would I use it all the time? No. It’s not a practical size for me, and doesn’t tend to go with much unlike my others.

 photo 1417026e-3a0b-4c70-9ad2-304d3bf9891c_zps478ba716.jpgThe biggest issue for me however is how dirty it gets. I suspect this would be the same for all fabric satchels – it just doesn’t clean up very well. At least leather (even fake leather!) is pretty much wipeable, and all of my other satchels look pretty damn good considering how much I’ve used them. This one just looks a little worse for wear, though it has now been thoroughly adopted and loved by my mum.

Would I buy a fabric satchel? Nope. Leather all the way for me! It just feels so much more expensive (and it doesn’t have to cost loads!), wipes clean, and looks a lot more professional. Plus who wouldn’t want the opportunity to customise their very own satchel (PS, remember I have a discount code at Leather Satchel Company)!?

What’s your bag of choice this Autumn?

Student Summer: A Shy Girl’s Guide to Freshers

I was too shy for Freshers. For one I rarely drink more than a couple of drinks (I was ill when I was 13, and it felt like I was constantly drunk. I genuinely don’t understand why I’d want to make myself feel like that!), and on top of the fact that I didn’t really know anyone, was missing my boyfriend like crazy and already starting to dislike my housemates I really wasn’t off to a great start. But I discovered you can have a good Fresher’s without drinking, without going out, without the ‘typical’ Fresher’s experience.

2014-01-20 16.15.29My absolute number one tip is to try and find people to meet before you go. Be they on your course or living near you, everything will seem so much better if you have someone to go over and say hi to. Facebook is the number one place to do this (your university halls and schools will often have fresher pages), as is The Student Room. I actually met one of my closest friends on Facebook before moving to university; we spent the first evening of Freshers together, and she introduced me to another of my best friends. Not sure how I would have survived starting university without the people I met beforehand!

 photo 2014-07-08105917_zps2bada689.jpgI’d also go with reading about the official events planned for Freshers – there just might be something that interests you. Apart from going for a couple of casual drinks in the quieter bar, I didn’t actually go out on Freshers at all. Which brings me to my next point – I wouldn’t buy the wristbands you will no doubt be offered. Yes they might save you money, but more often than not you’ll have to commit to events when buying. New friends might end up going to different things, so it’s best just to wait and decide on the night.

And if you don’t drink, don’t. If you have the confidence, just say that you’re not drinking. No one will think bad of you, and I know a lot of people that will respect you more for saying so than playing along. If you’re too shy to admit to not drinking, take part in Sober October (note: this is not why I took part last year), or just be the first to get drinks. No one will know that the vodka-and-coke in your hand is actually sans vodka.

Now that (kind of) brings me onto Fresher’s Flu. This is a real thing, and you will probably get it. My friend Caroline had it really rather badly, and the episodes in both my years so far (it’s not just limited to first year!) have been made worse by health issues. Freshers Flu less than three months after a nose operation is not fun, though actually far more pleasant that have a dodgy nose. I digress, you didn’t come here to read about my nose problems. I recommend buying and taking vitamins, having orange juice on standby, and ingredients in the cupboard for nourishing noodle soup. And register at the local doctors as soon as possible after you move in. If When you come down with FF, take it easy, dose up on paracetamol, and get plenty of sleep.

Not sure how useful my ramblings will be, but that’s my guide to Freshers. Just be yourself, don’t get pressured into anything, and you’ll be fine. I was terrified during Freshers week, but when I spoke about how I was feeling most people felt similarly. Most importantly, know that there is an opportunity to have a great Freshers if you’re not into going out or drinking.

Disclaimer: I was asked to write this post for #StressFreeFreshers organised by StressFreePrint, and was sent a goody bag in return. Any opinions are entirely my own.

What are your tips for starting university?

What’s Occurring Wednesday: Modern Street Food and a Traditional Village Show

It’s no secret that both me and my boyfriend are massive foodies, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some part of our weekends always revolves around food. Whether it’s a trip to a farmer’s market or cooking a nice meal together, food is a big part of relaxing together. These past two weekends have been no different, though we’ve done completely different things!

 photo 2014-09-13093105_zps8795a740.jpg photo 2014-09-13150354_zpsb756f772.jpgThis past weekend was his village’s first “annual” show, and my it was very traditional. Lots of classes to enter (I was unfortunately unable to enter due to not living in the parish), an old-fashioned tombola, and lots of lovely cups of tea being handed around. I was quite taken with the vegetable classes, until I noticed the table with all the dahlias on. These are my absolute favourite flower, so I got a bit snap-happy. Definitely prettier than the ‘funny shaped vegetable’ class!

 photo 2014-09-13150222_zpscf8356a1.jpg photo 2014-09-13150145_zps6a3c57b6.jpg photo 2014-09-13150111_zps368cabb0.jpg photo 2014-09-13150039_zps437ef433.jpg photo 2014-09-13150001_zpsace7f21f.jpg photo 2014-09-13145910_zps54dc8b87.jpgOf course we also spent plenty of time near the Cakes and Bakes classes. My boyfriend actually entered two – the Victoria Sponge, and the Decorated Cupcakes. Now I personally think the sponge class was a bit of a con – it was a set recipe, but not one of them worked. Very little rise to the sponges, though I’m sure they tasted delicious. Cupcakes, now they are more my thing. Turns out they’re my boyfriends thing too, as his Caramel Apple Cupcakes won first prize! And don’t they look delicious?

 photo 2014-09-13093140_zps2fc9557c.jpg photo 2014-09-13093226_zps98ea998f.jpg photo 2014-09-13093125_zpse195806e.jpgMaybe if you all ask nicely he’ll share his winning recipe?!

 photo 2014-09-13144744_zps78bc8f5d.jpgOutside we were impressed by the ‘Heaviest Pumpkin’ class – look at the size of that beast! Though take a look at the perfectly round orange one in the corner; we suspect this was a bought-in specimen!

 photo 2014-09-13150654_zps2250ba99.jpgThe weekend before was significantly less traditional. In line with my aim of getting out more during my placement year, when I found out about a Street Food festival in the next town/village from me there was no question about what we’d be doing. Reigate Street Eats it was! Now I didn’t take many photos, for the simple fact that it took place in a tunnel, it was dark (and slightly smoky, thanks to the pub who set up a BBQ and clearly didn’t know quite how to use it). We also didn’t eat much, only (horror!) sampling one vendor. We did have a massive curry planned for that evening after all!

 photo 2014-09-06131702_zps93760273.jpg photo 2014-09-06131832_zpsbdcbefdd.jpgHaving spent much of the summers of my young teenage years in Turkey, I was excited to find out that The Tinderbox were doing Lahmacun. I immediately sent out a tweet pretty much begging for a tomato-free version, and after a bit of a mixup at the van I had my hands on something I’d been craving for over four years.  Spicy mince pressed into excellent dough, served in a wood burner, then scattered with lemon, pine-nuts, herbs, seasoned yoghurt and pine nuts before being folded. What could be better?!

 photo 2014-09-06131754_zpsf6eaf407.jpg photo 2014-09-06131740_zps67dfa056.jpg photo 2014-09-06130328_zps650b30cc.jpgStreet food at its finest – fresh, hot and tasty, easy to eat, quick to make, relatively healthy and extremely tasty. Thanks for making a tomato-allergic girl very happy Tinderbox! And just look at the woodburning van too – we want one! Having experienced one street food festival I’ve got my eyes set on some of the London ones now – where’s best to go?

Have you been a foodie lately? Would you like to see a recipe for Caramel Apple Cupcakes? Trust me, they were delicious!

What’s Occurring Wednesday: New Lifestyle Series

Remember my What’s Cooking Wednesday series? I really enjoyed doing that over my second year, but I’m not sure it’s too feasible in my third year – I’m working full-time on placement, and quite often will finish later or more exhausted than expected so planned meals can go out of the window. But I do want a place to show you what I’ve been up to, things that don’t need a whole post but would otherwise go unmentioned. And of course I’m sure food will feature heavily too!

 photo 2014-09-06123644_zps9069005d.jpgSo, I’ve mentioned my placement. Since the end of July I’ve been working as an Actuarial Assistant in a large insurance firm. Can’t say too much about my job as it’s quite confidential, but I can say I despite the job title of Actuarial Assistant – it seems to be widely used across the industry, but it sounds so basic. Trust me its not, I’m far from an assistant! I’ve learnt so much in time I’ve been there, my mind swims with Excel shortcuts and VBA code each day, but it’s so worth stretching myself knowing this is definitely where I want to be after graduation. If you’re at university and have the chance of a placement or internship, then go for it – it’s an amazing opportunity! My placement has meant yet another move to a different part of the country, and I’m now based in Surrey. I’ll be doing a post about my new place soon, but I have to say I’m liking Surrey so far. I can get to London in under half an hour, and the train is ridiculously cheap too compared to what I was used to.

 photo 2014-09-06135756_zpse4b36183.jpg photo adcfcdd9-724b-45b0-98ed-63e33ac88890_zps35f545d6.jpgWhen I’ve not been sleeping (full time work is exhausting!) weekends have mainly been spent getting to know my area, usually with my man. Last weekend we were lucky enough to be invited to review a local Indian, so expect a post on that tomorrow. We also came across a local street food festival, which will be featured soon enough.

 photo 2014-09-06123920_zps521cee13.jpg2014-08-30 14.13.28You may have noticed an improvement in pictures – meet my new baby! I turn 21 in December and asked for a camera for my parents. Whilst they were in Turkey the Canon EOS M was discontinued and heavily reduced in most places, I’d set my heart on this one so I ordered away. I then decided that as they haven’t paid me back yet I’d keep it! I got it for a really good price, though I think I’ve already spent far too much on a pretty case, and a lens adapter for it. I’ll be putting a 50mm lens on my list now too! I’m under no illusions than a camera will automatically improve my photos, but I think I’d outgrown my HTC phone camera, and my pictures just weren’t doing it for me. Getting a camera has also encouraged me to learn more about photography basics, and I’m slowly but surely seeing improvement. Not overnight, but it is getting there and I’m finally feeling a little more proud of my blog because of this!

 photo 2014-09-01191654_zpsc5e6aa72.jpgAnd finally, to the food. Having a job = more money = more food. I’ve definitely been treating myself on the food front, no way would I have spent £3.50 on a packet of pastrami as a student. It was delicious though! I’ve also been doing plenty of baking – my Peanut-aires shortbread were spectacularly well received. Amazingly yummy, and surprisingly quick and cheap. I’m still technically a student after all!

That was a longer post than expected! What have you been up to lately?

 

Student Summer: Taking Your Relationship to University

My post on Long Distance Relationships remains one of the most popular posts on my blog; I’ve had a lot of positive comments and tweets about it, and I’ve loved hearing other people’s LDR stories too. Today I thought I’d concentrate specifically on taking your relationship to university, whether that’s going long distance or moving together.

 photo 10464251_10201833358628057_7137741447011300528_n_zpsda2dc99f.jpg

Side note – my boyfriend cannot pull a ‘normal’ face in photographs anymore…

As I’m sure you’re all aware, I was in a relationship for two years before starting university. We both live in the Midlands; I moved South to university, and he moved (slightly) North – good planning! We picked our universities completely independently of each other, although having said that there was nowhere offering both our courses, and so knew for a good while we were heading towards long distance. Other couples I knew ended up purely coincidentally heading to the same university, which really worked for them. Funnily enough, the majority of couples I know who ended up splitting actually went to the same universities because of each other.

If you’re ending up going to the same university, I recommend making sure you give each other space. University really grows you as an individual, and it would be a shame for your and/or your partner to miss out on that. Don’t plan to move in together straight away, have your own friendship groups – basically just carry on as normal just away from home. Of course, moving in straight away does work for some people, but it isn’t something I’d necessarily advise at 18.

 photo 2014-04-26123410_zps4e0140e9.jpgObviously I’ve already written a whole post about long distance love, so do go there for more advice, but if you are going straight into a long distance relationship when you start univesity, I do have a few more targeted tips.

  • Have a talk. Realistically, if you aren’t sure about being together for a significant period of time, going long distance is unlikely to work. You need to sit down and have a serious chat – are you committed to each other? How often will you visit? We sat down several times over the summer before university and ultimately decided that we were sure we were ‘it’ for each other – and that was enough for us to know that we needed to make it work.
  • Sort out visits in advance. Whilst we have graduated from a calendar to a spreadsheet (I AM a trainee actuary!) its so helpful to know when we’ll be seeing each other over the coming months. Gives us something to look forward to, and it means we won’t accidentally arrange things and then be unable to see each other. We see each other roughly every fortnight, any more and we both get moody – it works for us as its often enough to avoid missing each other loads, but far enough apart to give each other space to get out with friends and get on with work.
  • Make some ground rules. What do you class as unacceptable behaviour?
  • Arrange time for each other. Have specific nights where you chat on the phone or Skype. Let the other know in advance if you can’t make it. Making time for each other when you’re apart is key to lasting long distance.
  • Get to know each others friends/housemates. I won’t lie, it is very easy to get jealous when your partner is making new friends. One of the best things for me was running into them whilst visiting and them saying ‘we’ve heard so much about you” – it honestly made me so much more relaxed.
  • Make plans for visits. Even if its just try that nice cafe for lunch, or making a yummy dinner, its important to make the most of your time together. You want to look back on the last visit and know you had fun, and not just sat waiting to say goodbye.

 photo 1157450_10151785402043516_1823432763_n_zps74278bb0.jpgI have had friends ask me whether I’ve felt that I have “missed out” on university or felt “held back” due to my relationship – but really I feel the opposite. I’ve moved away from home and really, really grown up, and I have had the support of a lovely young man to help me. Yes I sometimes turn down invites as its a weekend I’ll be away visiting, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I’ve managed to do everything I want, do fantastically well in my degree so far, get offered not one but two work placements, all whilst keeping a long distance relationship going. And because I work out all my assignments and revision so I don’t do any when I’m with him, it works out that I get a mini-holiday every fortnight!

 photo 2014-07-08110119_zpscd552875.jpgStarting a serious relationship at a young age doesn’t mean it won’t last, and likewise it doesn’t mean that you say goodbye to other life opportunities.  I wouldn’t change any part of my life; its not easy, its not perfect, but its right for me. Going to university in a relationship is something to be proud of, and it is entirely possible. So don’t worry if that’s what you’re about to do this month.
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What happened to your relationships when you went to university?