Lifestyle: Falling in Love Young

Long-time readers of my blog will know the story of my relationship, but here’s a recap. Me and W met at the age of 16, when I moved to the local Boy’s school for Sixth Form. We got together around three weeks after first speaking, and that was it. Although we went our separate ways to university, we stayed together – travelling up and down the country every other weekend. And during our final year, just before Christmas, he got down on one knee.

 photo Falling in Love_zpssvs7l1p1.jpgSo that’s it. I fell in love at the age of 16. Even if I didn’t know it at the time (spoiler alert – I didn’t). Obviously I wouldn’t change what we have for the world, but falling in love at a young age isn’t easy. Sure, it’s nice to know you’ve found your soulmate already, but there’s the tough bits too…

“You’re Too Young”, “You Don’t Know What Love Is”

If I’m truly honest, I actually didn’t hear this nearly as much as I would have imagined. I did have a lot of people assume we wouldn’t manage to stay together throughout university, including one lovely piece of super-helpful advice – that we split up, then get back together after it. Oh, and the comment about the ‘unexpected surprise’ when we announced our engagement. No, no I did not (and do not!) have a bun in the oven…

I guess I kind of understand. Both of us can pretty much pinpoint the day we realised this was ‘it’ for us – and that day was nearly three years into our relationship. The “I love yous” we spoke after just eight weeks had little of the meaning they do now, despite us meaning it at the time. However I do remember thinking that something was different, the night we got together. No matter how young you are, I think you’ll always remember the first kiss with your future husband.

You Grow Up Together (or Grow Apart)

We’ve definitely grown up since we met – and we knew that we would inevitably grow together or apart. No matter how in love you are as a teenager, I do think there is still the chance of growing apart. I’m not the same girl I was at 16, W isn’t the same guy. I know couples who were just as good as us back in sixth form who just grew in different directions, developed different priorities. And that’s fine.

You’ll Be Useless At Dating Advice

This is something I actually found quite tough – I feel a little bit excluded in girly conversations as I have very little relationship experience. I met a boy, dated said boy, will marry the same boy, done. Yes, I’m lucky in that I’ve never had my heart broken or any major relationship drama, but it’s rendered me pretty much useless at advising my friends.

Also, I have no idea how you meet people in your twenties. I’m technically of Tinder generation but I don’t know how to use the thing…I have no idea of the ‘rules.’ How soon should you sleep together? When do you introduce them to the parents? What about your wider family? Sidenote: we met each other’s parents before getting together, and he met my grandparents after a month. And my entire family by three months in.
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You Still Get to Experience Life, Just Together

Falling in love has never, ever stopped either of us from doing what we wanted. We both did the undergraduate degrees we wanted, at the university we wanted. We’ve graduated. W is doing his Master’s in “Inventing Stuff” (and you can help his Solo Project out by taking filling in this short form on “Sharing Your Struggle“) whilst I’m working in my dream job. We’ll be looking into getting our first dog in hopefully not too many years. We’re doing the travelling we want to do (UK and Europe based). He watches the golf and snooker *snores* and I watch crime dramas and Disney. I buy too many clothes, he wears jeans with pen strains and holes. We’re still our own people, we just muddle through life together.
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You’ll Have a Hilarious Bank of Photos

Yay for planning an ’embarrassing photo wall’ at your wedding. Whilst I don’t think I’ve changed that much since I was sixteen (just worked out how to style my hair!), he looks SO different. I’m surprised he hasn’t had his ID rejected yet…

I will also add it’s painful for me to share this photo. It just makes me cringe!

Your First Dates Won’t Be That Romantic

After McDonald’s lunch with friends and a few hours of MSN chat, our first ‘date’ (the week before we got together) was to Pizza Express. It was raining heavily and he whacked me round the face with a soggy umbrella. Most of our dates were Friday evenings spent alternating at each other’s houses, with the occasional trip to Nandos.

 photo 2016-02-14 15.21.08_zpssj2k95vo.jpgBut above all, falling in love has been fun. We got to know each other without any pressures, no tick-tocking of a biological clock, no desire to settle down. We were able to be ourselves at university, not too closely attached to each other – but there for the other at the end of the phone. I get more years to share with my soulmate. And above all else? I have excellent evidence of the embarrassing moments of his later teens. Though I’m sure he can say the same, so I won’t be sharing…

Did you fall in love at a young age, even if it didn’t last?

Lifestyle: What’s It Really Like to be in an LDR?

Over four years of (term-time) long distance has meant we were well practiced in the Sunday-goodbyes, late-night phonecalls and Skype dates. It’s not the easiest situation to be in, though thankfully we managed to squeeze in plenty of visits and weren’t *too* far from each other. And, as regular readers will know, it came to a permanent end this summer, culminating in us moving into a flat in London right at the end of August. For now though, here’s a bit of an insight into what it’s really like going through university in a long distance relationship…

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Fear Of Missing Out

This is a big one for me, I suffer from FOMO dreadfully! Whether it’s something going on up at Will’s (I was gutted I missed going to see the Bond film with him last year), or if there’s a night out planned at mine when I’m away on a visit, it’s always difficult to accept missing out on things. Realistically though, it’s inevitable with an LDR.

Hatred & Love for Train Stations

I used to get dreadful motion-sickness on trains, but definitely not anymore! It’s also definitely induced both a love and hatred of train stations. I love them on Friday nights; getting to wait until you see that face in the crowd, then Sundays are spent hiding my face in his chest pretending I don’t need to leave. I do now have a love for St Pancras/Kings Cross though, after his nearby proposal! Oh, and I also knew the Southeastern timetable off by heart…

Visit Spreadsheets

Both being a bit of a geek means that spreadsheets are the easiest way of keeping track of visits. We try to plan them at least four weeks in advance, so we can take advantage of cheaper train tickets and try and plan social bits and bobs (see FOMO!) around them.

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Delay Repay

Relying on trains means delays happen. Annoying but true! Very often a tiny delay on one line will lead to us missing connections, I feel like I spend a good chunk of my time applying for compensation. The best one is still in our first year, when I got to St Pancras on my way back to university only to find heavy snowfall had cancelled all trains…the thought of being stranded overnight was terrifying!

Phone Permanently in Hand

Being apart meant it quite often feels like I’m in a relationship with my phone. I tended to carry it from room to room, and in some ways it still felt like a new relationship – every text will make me smile. Even now my first thought when something exciting happens will be to text W. Yep, even when he is sat next to me…

 photo 2016-02-14 15.21.08_zpswfg3l2wt.jpgSo yeah, it wasn’t easy, but at the same time I wouldn’t have had it any other way! I know this is a bit of a cliche, but I truly believe that if it is meant to be, things will work out. Sure, you’ll have to work at it, there were so many times I cried and said I’d had enough, but we fought through it and four years later he gets to see all my bad hair days, my spotty days, my hormonal days…there’s definitely bonuses to LDRs too!

Have you ever been in an LDR? How did you find it?

Lifestyle: How I Would Propose

In celebration of 2016’s leap year, I thought I’d share the ideas I came up with a few months ago, back in the last few weeks of 2015 where I thought I’d be proposing on February 29th…Obviously after December’s events that’s not going to be happening but I thought I might as well make some use of the list I drew up!
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Train Station Platform

Being in an LDR gives us a love-hate relationship with trains, however one of my favourite moments is pulling up to the platform and spotting him standing there. I remember one of our first visits (way back in the beginning of university!) when he surprised me at the station before his, walking down the carriage with a bunch of flowers. Trust me, seeing your partners face after a period apart is the best feeling in the world – and what better way to improve it by popping the question? If the 29th had fallen on a Friday this would definitely have been top of my list!
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Switzerland

This place really does hold a special place in our hearts – it was where we first went on holiday together, his family have been going back for years, and it is a breathtakingly beautiful country. I think we both would have loved to get engaged there, however decided it was rather too expensive for a few years. Typically, as this post goes live I will actually be in Switzerland…

Skype

Another one for LDR couples, and probably the ‘easiest’ of the bunch – though proposing with no possibility of a hug after seems a little bit sad (probably because I was pretty hysterical when he asked and flung myself into his arms). In fact I’m almost tempted to stage a little Skype proposal on Monday anyway!

 photo Proposal Story 6_zpsnr82oxsf.jpgI was always the girl who thought she didn’t want a ‘big’ proposal, who said she would know when it was coming. In reality, whilst I was pretty sure that it would happen that weekend, I was pretty much blown off my feet when W did propose. I could never have prepared myself for how it would feel, that moment your “someone” gets down on one knee in front of you and tells you that you’re the one they want to spend their life with, asks you if you feel the same. Even now, over two months on, I still daydream back to that moment.

How would you propose, or how were you proposed to?

 

Lifestyle: A Sunday Well Spent

2016’s Valentines has to win the award for not only my favourite Valentines, but quite possibly my favourite way to spend a Sunday. Having attended the wedding of two fabulous guys on the Saturday we took the opportunity to book ourselves a night in the hotel venue – saving ourselves a late night two-hour trip back, and ensuring the next day would be spent simply enjoying each others’ company.

 photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 4_zpse49ylli5.jpgA cooked breakfast, sunny countryside walk, massive Sunday lunch and my best friend, what more could a girl want?! And not a scheduling error – I just liked the title of this post despite it going up on a Saturday!

 photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 2_zpssmvxsk9f.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 1_zpsiaziyclf.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 3_zps81zfb61d.jpg photo 2016-02-13 15.25.48_zps8pv8n30m.jpgFirst off, the wedding was beautiful. The hotel was perfect, cosy and pretty with a criminally comfortable bed. All of the flowers were handmade out of paper, in yellow or grey tones, or out of pages of old Terry Prachett books. Even the (massive) bouquets were made of paper, with the cutest Lego-man buttonholes! We (or rather I) cried, we toasted, we danced, and generally enjoyed the day. And yep, I now want to make my own bouquet out of paper…

The next day we exchanged cards (the excitement of being a fiancée is not yet wearing off!), filled up on scrambled eggs, sausages and hash browns, then headed out to Cannock Chase. Once we managed to get off the “family” trail and into the peace and quiet it was beautiful.

 photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 12_zpsroewki4i.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 9_zpse3k3biwm.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 10_zps9ncp3lee.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 7_zpskvykx4kq.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 6_zpsv2hc62me.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 5_zpsr5xh9fse.jpgWe rarely saw another person, bar being followed by several friendly dogs (all of which I wanted to take home!), and it was so lovely just to stroll hand-in-hand, mainly chatting, sometimes in complete silence. It’s been a whirlwind few months and I sometimes feel as though it’s nice to take a deep breath and step back from it all.

We then journeyed onto Sunday lunch. We’d chosen Weston Hall for many reasons; budget (I just wanted a roast, not a fancy V-day dinner!), non-chain, good wine (for me!). Turns out we chose well, this was easily the best Sunday roast I’ve had away from home, and at £20 each for three courses felt pretty bargainous too. Particularly as the Yorkshire pudding was the size of my head…

I started Stilton & Garlic mushrooms, always a favourite. These were deliciously creamy, though the addition of a fresh pesto cut through the richness. My only complaint was that the bread roll should have been warm, as it did cool the dish very quickly. No complaints came from the Carrot & Orange soup, which was slurped up in no time. An old fashioned roast featured for both of us, with myself going for the rare beef (yum!), and him the lamb. Both delicious, coming with amazingly crispy roast potatoes and nicely cooked veg. I was a big fan of the cauliflower, complete with a mustard cheesy sauce and crunchy breadcrumbs. If that wasn’t enough, we finished with pudding. I had a delicious proper brownie (gooey and chewy on the inside, crunchy on the edge), W had a crumble. Both delicious. And my Zinfandel Rose hit the spot perfectly.

 photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 13_zps9jj4ofwc.jpg photo Valentines Weekend in Staffordshire 14_zpse681ieba.jpgWe paused outside the hotel for a quick stroll around their gardens, and managed to take one of the best photos of us yet. We clearly need to practise before the wedding! It was a perfect Valentine’s, a perfect Sunday, and it’s made me all the more excited for (hopefully) living with this guy full-time after the summer. Because we can do this everyday, right…?!

How did you spend Valentine’s? What would be your perfect Sunday?

Lifestyle: V-day & Long Distance Relationships

I was never a huge fan of Valentine’s day. In fact, I’m still not. Do we really need a particular date to tell our partners how we feel?! Does it need to be the fourteenth of Feb for me to get flowers? Nope. However the real reason I’m not a fan of V-day is that, being in a long-distance relationship, I really, really, really don’t want to see cute couples, lovey-dovey cards or be reminded that yet again a Skype date will have to do.

 photo Valentines in an LDR_zps1kc1t4b0.jpgFor new readers of the blog, W and I have been long-distance since the start of university in 2012 having gotten together at the age of 16 – and whilst we haven’t been too far apart, it isn’t the easiest of situations. Luckily Valentine’s 2016 falls not only on a weekend, but on a planned visit weekend too – we’re attending a wedding on the Saturday so have a hotel booked and (weather dependent) a countryside walk planned.

As we’re managing to see each other we’ve decided not to do gifts this year (though I’m far too excited for another fiancé card!), but here’s a few little ideas of how to spend Valentine’s when in an LDR…

Skype Date

Ah, the ol’Skype date. We try and Skype once a week anyway, but on certain occasions we’ll try and make it a bit more special. Maybe have dinner ‘together’ or really make the effort to make sure we’re not skyping whilst studying or (ahem) blogging…
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Flowers by Post*

Contradicting myself here! I love receiving flowers (or indeed, treating myself) however I’m not the biggest fan of “Valentine’s flowers.” Luckily Blossoming Gifts have a pretty decent range of ‘Flowers by Post‘ – unfortunately my bouquet this time arrived a little bit battered, but I’ve had some fab ones in the past. I found once I removed the daises from this boquet it looked a lot better – and actually the carnations are still going strong 10 days later. I know I’d be super happy to receive a bunch of flowers in the post at any time – just having fresh flowers around really brightens my mood and puts a smile on my face!

As a special treat, use the code BGIFTS33 to get an excellent 33% off a bouquet. This does have a few exclusions (including the bouquet I ordered) however if you fancy upholding tradition there’s a multitude of red-rose bunches to choose from.
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“Galentine’s” Night

One of the best ways to cheer me up when I’m feeling a little lonely is to spend time with friends. Sure, they aren’t quite as cuddly as W, but a girls night in definitely makes me smile. Grab a bottle of wine, shove on Mean Girls and you have my perfect Valentine’s right there!

Last Saturday, feeling a bit worse for wear, we treated ourselves to a couple of tubs of Häagen-Dazs*, got the blankets on the sofas and binge-watched Ex on the Beach. The Chocolate Salted Caramel flavour is divine!
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Treat Yourself

If all else fails, Valentine’s is the perfect time to have a quiet evening pampering yourself. Light some candles, pull out your favourite products, grab some magazines and a cheeky bar of chocolate. I’ve been loving using a combination of Soap & Glory’s Breakfast Scrub and Lush’s Argan body conditioner for a really luxurious shower. I’ve also been mixing up pampering evenings with a little light wedding ‘planning’ (i.e. dress dreaming). Definitely helps with final year stress…

So, Valentine’s in an LDR can be okay – just ignore any soppiness, hand-holding and PDAs around you…

Are you a fan of V-day? How are you spending it this year?

University Guest Post: The Relationship Guide

The latest in my guest post series, here is Becky from Blogger & The Geek talking about being in a relationship at university. I found this a really interesting read as mine isn’t the usual university relationship (there’s not many who have kept up an LDR for three years!) – I’ll definitely be making sure I make the most of my girlfriends after reading this!

 photo Relationship guide_zpsn0eeetpe.pngWith everyone getting their A Level results recently and off to University soon, I must admit, I’m jealous. It will be six years ago this September when I started my degree at the University of Lincoln and I had the best 3 years of my life. I met my best friends, lived independently, made some good and bad memories and I met my boyfriend, Ant, who I’ve been with for five years.

It’s inevitable that you will meet a number of different people at University. I remember my freshers week being a haze of alcohol and meeting so many different people each night. As you get more and more settled, you may find yourself getting into a relationship and, because you’re away from home, it brings a whole game of the table. You can have them stay over, you’ve got a whole house/flat, a city homed to different bars and restaurants. It’s a sense of freedom that I personally never really had before.

With this new freedom and dynamic, there are pros and cons. Having been with Ant for the majority of my University life and living in a houseshare with different people. I balanced my friendships, relationship, a part time job and my degree whilst at University. It’s an achievement because it’s really difficult.. here are my top tips to keeping the balance of your relationship.
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Remember you share a house with other people.

This one sounds a little ridiculous seeing as you live with other people. In my first year, I shared my flat with two other girls and then shared a house with 3 other people. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your relationship and forget about your housemates. If you’re having a cosy Netflix night in sprawled all over the sofa and taking over the living room with your Two for Tuesday, your housemate might be stuck in their bedroom and feels a bit awkward interrupting. Let them know what you’re doing in advance. They’d really appreciate it.

Schedule time to see your friends.

As exciting and loved up you may be, don’t forget to spend times with your friends. Remember to keep going on nights out, going on coffee dates and breakfast dates before lectures. If it all goes wrong, they’ll be the ones you will rely on and pick up the pieces.

Go to each others houses.

One bonus of being in a relationship at Uni is that you now have 2 bases. That 9am lecture on a Wednesday and the other half lives next door to the seminar room? Big, big bonus!

Keep being yourself.

If you’re part of a University society or a club, make sure you keep going! It’s good to have separate hobbies and building a life outside of your relationship. Even outside of Uni, it’s important to not live in each other’s pockets.

You have another brain to use.

One thing with my boyfriend and I, we could use each other’s brains to our advantage. My boyfriend is dyslexic and often missed words out of his essays so I always re-read his work to check for spelling and that it made sense. My boyfriend’s a creative which was amazing for bouncing ideas for my creative writing piece in my third year.

 photo 1157450_10151785402043516_1823432763_n_zps74278bb0.jpgI found that this guide helped me with not only having a loving and balance relationship but it balanced my friendships and helped me achieve my degree. Always remember what you went to University for and what you set out to achieve.

What are your tips for managing relationships at university?

Lifestyle: Valentine’s Cooking and a #ShareTheLove Giveaway

Our fifth Valentine’s together, and the first we actually spent the day with each other. I’m not the mushy, lovey type and really don’t go in for the commercial aspect. If I want to show my boyfriend how I feel I won’t wait until the 14th of February! That said, it was nice to spend a day focussing on each other, no ipads, few phone interruptions. We spent the day in the kitchen, slowly creating a delicious but simple meal to enjoy.

 photo 2015-02-14 21.20.04_zpseqpt0fnq.jpgOur favourite things, without the extortionate price tag of eating out on Vlentine’s. Plus we could snuggle up in PJs AND both of us could have wine. Bliss!

 photo 2015-02-14 14.22.09_zpsrxiqb4hi.jpg photo 2015-02-14 14.23.38_zpseffg5dat.jpg photo 2015-02-14 14.35.22_zpsp6lsro6s.jpg photo 2015-02-14 15.45.42_zpsh9ppu3ld.jpgFirst up was pasta. Yep, we made pasta from scratch!  It was surprisingly simple, the dough was more basic than my usual pastry recipe. Just pasta flour, egg and olive oil, gradually combined on a work surface and knead until firm. This was chilled, and then rolled. W was lucky enough to get a KitchenAid for his twenty-first, and it’s pasta-machine attachment made the rolling and cutting of the pasta a breeze…and extremely fun. We went for fettucine, which we left to air dry whilst we got on with desert…

 photo 2015-02-14 15.47.42_zps2ntjuomj.jpg photo 2015-02-14 15.59.11_zps0pmxy0hv.jpgMars Bar Mousse. Again, surprisingly simple with the help of the KitchenAid (I never want to whip egg whites again by hand!) and absolutely delicious. The Mars Bars mean this isn’t as rich and bitter as usual recipes, and being a mousse it’s deceptively light. We definitely felt a bit ill after gorging this whilst watching James Bond (we’re trying to get through allllll the films this year).

I’ve teamed with with Intellcig, and together we’re offering you the chance to win a box of goodies – all baking themed, and many from Paperchase. They sent me the same box (I wanted to keep the contents a surprise) and it really was a treat, full of things I can’t wait to use! To enter (it’s UK only I’m afraid) just use the widget below, I’ll contact the winner in two weeks and send their details off to Intellicig who will be sending the package direct. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The set will include; A Paperchase baking recipe notes book, an apron, heart shaped measuring cups, heart cookie cutters, heart shaped muffin tray, set of teacup cake moulds, cupcake cases and toppers, vanilla/strawberry icing and heart sugar sprinkles. Intellicig are running a campaign called ‘SpreadTheLove’ – encouraging you to do something lovely for someone else. Be it a bunch of flowers, the washing up, or baking them a cake – just make them feel loved.

Now, I will be validating entries so please leave usernames etc so I can check. I’ll email the winner asap on the closing date, but if I don’t hear back from them by the end of that Friday’s working day I’ll have to choose another winner. Prize will be sent direct from Intellicig and may differ from described, but I hope you love it as much as I loved mine!

 photo 2015-02-15 18.57.57_zpsx80zmvsh.jpgI so enjoyed spending Valentine’s with my man, doing something we both love. It’s been a while since we spent a good long time in the kitchen so it was well overdue. Fingers crossed we can have more baking days over the next few months…diet or no diet!

Would you like the recipe for Mars Bar Mousse? How did you celebrate Valentine’s day? Hope you were all spoilt rotten!

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!

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.

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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?

Lifestyle: Long Distance Love

I’m sure most of you know by now, but I’m in a long distance relationship due to university. I told the details in full a few months back, but basically we met at the beginning of sixth form at the sweet age of sixteen, got together within a few months, spent two years together before we travelled to university 200 miles apart. We’ve now been long distance for nearly two years, and we have at least another two years ahead of us. This Sunday will mark the start of our third year apart, as I move to Surrey to commence my placement. It’s bittersweet – the end of a short summer together, but we’re hopefully over halfway there! Here’s my tips for going long distance, and how to cope:

 photo 1157450_10151785402043516_1823432763_n_zps74278bb0.jpgDon’t compare yourself to other relationships. Be they people who live together, or people who are in an LDR with a lesser distance between them, you don’t know the details of their relationship. I’ve had people look down on me when I’m struggling ‘cos he’s still in the same country; yes, but that doesn’t mean I can see him, it doesn’t make me feel any closer! Yes, its only 200 miles, but its also a minimum of four years – I’ll be nearly 23 by the time I can even think about trying to move in with my boyfriend. Equally I know I’ve gotten extremely jealous of couples living closer to each other, but I do try not to show it. Most of my friends are coupled up, I’d soon see them and their partners as opposed to sit sulking on my own!

Try to have a long-term plan. I know where we are going in the future, and that helps an awful lot. Wanting the same things is ultimately what keeps a LDR going; if you are about to embark on one its probably a good idea to have a frank discussion.

In terms of a plan, it’s also useful to try and plan out visits in advance. This is easier when you are in the same country, but even international relationships should try and have an idea about when they will see each other next – even if its ‘by XXX date’. When we first started university our plan was to see each other every four weeks. That never happened, and we see each other every fortnight, with the occasional three-week gap.

 photo 2014-04-26123410_zps4e0140e9.jpgCommunicate. This is really the main point, and its a must-do. You need to make time to speak to your partner. Not just a quick chat, but real conversation. What you’ve been up to, what’s been the highlight of your week, everything and anything. Really listen to what they have to say too. We try and call each other every other night, and have a Skype around 3 times a week (Skype will seriously become your best friend!) – I’ll also call my boyfriend if I’m walking home in the dark on my own!

That said, try to communicate in ways other than through your phone. I found that when we first went long distance I become unhealthily attached to my mobile, it was like having a relationship with a handheld electronic object! We try and write each other old-fashioned letters – and I loved it when I used to be surprised with a parcel of goodies he’d baked!

 photo 27918_10151267754238516_1513098207_n_zps73521391.jpgMeet each other’s friends. Obviously you need your own friends, but introducing your partner and vice versa means you feel a little more involved in each other’s lives. My boyfriend seems to naturally have more girls as friends than boys at university; whilst I know that’s just him, I can truthfully say that meeting them all, hearing them say “we’ve heard lots about you” made me feel a lot better!

Have boundaries. We trust each other absolutely, but we do ask that neither of us put ourselves in certain situations. These will be different for different couples – I have no problem with my boyfriend going out with just a few of his girl mates, but I know others would. Above all though, you really do need to trust each other. If you don’t you will be eaten alive with jealousy, and to me jealousy isn’t a good thing in a relationship.

 photo 10464251_10201833358628057_7137741447011300528_n_zpsda2dc99f.jpgMake visits exciting. Sure you might want to spend the whole weekend cuddled up, but building memories means you’re far more likely to look forward to the next visit. Explore their area, go for brunch, cook for each other. One of my favourite weekends was when we paid (a ridiculous amount) and caught the bus to Whitstable. A day by the sea with ice cream and a giant sausage roll just can’t be beaten! If you can’t manage a whole weekend, arrange a day-trip in a central location. During my exams I knew I couldn’t cope with a whole weekend off of revision, so instead we met up in London – got soaked in the rain, explored Borough Market and had a yummy dinner at Wahaca.

My biggest tip of all – have fun! Whether it be together in person, laughing along on the phone, giggling over Skype, or apart and with your friends. Try not to mope away when you’re in need of a cuddle, but do something to cheer you up and remember: if it’s meant to be, you will get through it!

What are your relationship tips?