Lifestyle: Exploring Surrey

I’ve lived in Surrey since last July but confess I haven’t seen much of the county. Completely reliant on public transport I’ve found my options quite limited, and the temptation of both Brighton and London has been hard to resist.

 photo 2015-05-25 12.37.08_zpsammplf88.jpgI’ve visited some lovely towns during my time here. I’ve eaten plenty of street food in Reigate, loved Guildford and had a yummy fish finger sandwich in Dorking. But above all I’ve fallen in love with the countryside. Glimpses from trains have shown rolling hills, shady woods, little streams. I know without doubt I’d love to consider settling down here in the future.

 photo 2015-05-25 12.41.23_zpsexvdeayy.jpg photo 2015-05-25 12.41.11_zpsxqjjo5ke.jpg photo 2015-05-25 12.51.26_zpsd16wyxic.jpgBank Holiday Monday saw my parents drive down to pack up my winter wardrobe see me so I persuaded them we needed to explore. We headed over to Box Hill, an area made famous by the cycling a few years back. It’s still extremely popular with cyclists, hence driving up was a little difficult – but worth it. Stunning views, a lovely visitors centre. We would have loved to spend longer up there, perhaps taking a proper walk.

But grumbling tummies had to be dealt with!

After missing the turnings for most of the pubs we had researched and almost driving into the US Open Golf qualifiers (quite literally…) we stumbled upon The Blue Anchor. Making the most of sitting outside we quickly ordered…and were thoroughly impressed.

 photo 2015-05-25 13.40.21_zpsqrkv2zhs.jpg photo 2015-05-25 13.40.32_zpsxxmjiox9.jpgI couldn’t resist the lure of the burger – minus the gherkin (who eats these?!) and tomato. Coming with lashings of mustard mayo and a good helping of actually melted cheese, it was one of the most delicious burgers I’ve had. It wasn’t cooked pink, in fact it was a little chewy, but the flavours were spot on. Bonus points for melting the cheese onto the burger so it crisped slightly. SO GOOD.

 photo 2015-05-25 13.40.14_zpsjzkudl8f.jpgMy sister went for the prawn and crab linguine, and would have loved it had it not been for the rather strange addition of sweet chilli sauce. Instead she feasted on the chips. Obviously homemade, already perfectly seasoned, crisp. Everything you want a chip to be!

My parents went for the beer battered cod, and the ham and eggs – both of which received no complaints. I’m convinced my burger was the star of the show though.

 photo 2015-05-25 13.40.08_zpshmwtiq0m.jpgWe finished the day with a quick wander around Reigate before piling all my stuff into the car. I genuinely don’t know how I’ve ammassed so much stuff. Kind of dreading moving back to university in September as adding notes to this is going to get embarrassing…

 photo 6560ba7d-aaad-437e-a085-aa21713d47cf_zpsjxf9iqbd.jpgA lovely day, beautiful weather, fabulous company, exploring one of my favourite parts of the country. If only all Mondays were like this!

How have you been spending your weekends lately? Do you love to get out and about in your local area?

Personal: Memories

Memories are so important to me. Making them and, even more so, keeping hold of them. Five years ago my granddad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It’s been three years since he recognised anyone.

 photo 2015-05-04 13.11.13_zpswt015cem.jpgI don’t know whether it runs in our family and I’m not sure whether I’d want to find out. Whilst I’d like to know to sort out financials in later life, if I knew at this stage it would put an end to me wanting a family. What I do know is this – I’ll do anything to keep my brain ticking. I do daily memory exercises, take recommended supplements, try and force down oily-fish (or cod liver oil capsules). And I document my life.

 photo 293801_3323895148611_845060848_n_zpsnemazdal.jpgSometimes people get annoyed when I take my camera everywhere. Yes, most days out are an opportunity to blog, but it means so much more than that. Photos are visual reminders are what we got up to, and I find these bring back stronger recollections than just thoughts. Trying to balance living my life myself verus through a lens can get difficult, but I know in a few years I’ll look back grateful at all these photographs.

 photo 2015-05-04 13.11.30_zps0a6shtna.jpgWriting in my One Line A Day diary helps too. Short sentences means I’ll actually keep up with it, and reading back means the lack of detail works the brain muscles as I try to remember. I only wish I’d started this sooner! I’ll be 26 when I finish it (scary thought) and I’m looking forward to seeing how my life changes in the next five years.

 photo 2015-04-06 13.51.08_zpsrtpvhrxl.jpg photo IMG_2210_zpsy8uxbfra.jpgI don’t want to forget the picnic me and W had the weekend before we parted ways to separte university. I want to remember how snuggly Tee-J is when he is sleepy. I want to remember how stunning Edinburgh is, how much I love Brighton, how yummy Wahaca is. I want to remember how W sticks his tongue out at me every time he meets me off my train on a Friday night (and probably at my back as I leave on a Sunday). I don’t want to forget the sights I’ve seen, how my sister has grown into a friend, even the teen arguments I had with my mum.

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I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next five years. Probably marriage, possibly even (though more unlikely!) children. I don’t know where I’ll be in the future. But however my life changes, I’ll be glad of the memories I’m making and the steps I’m taking to preserve them.

Do you try and document more of your life, or do you live in the moment?

Personal: Mum In A Million

My mum is awesome, and I was already planning a post on here to tell you all about her especially for Mother’s Day (it’s this Sunday so remember to pick up a card!). It seems as though Parkdean Holidays had the same idea when they asked me to write about why my mum is a ‘mum in a million.’

It was really hard to think of specific reasons, because my mum just is great. I was the girl in secondary school who didn’t mind going for a girly shopping day with mum – and actually some of my friends used to come along too. My mum was actually given crown as the coolest mum in my group of friends, and not just cos she makes an awesome lasagne (sob, damn allergy!). But here’s just some of the reasons why she’s a mum in a million…
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She Knows Exactly What’s Best For Me

Just over five years ago I was in the processing of looking at A-Level subjects, and thinking about whether I wanted to move schools. There was a very good sixth form at the local Boy’s school but I was adamant I didn’t want to apply, I didn’t stand a chance of getting  in etc. A good few arguments later and I sulked my way to the open evening. Loved the school on the spot, was devastated when I just missed out on the place, then cried when I successfully appealed. Not only did I get a chance to study the exact subjects I wanted to, taught by some of the best teachers, I found my confidence again. And without being made to consider this school, I wouldn’t have met Will. So yep, Mum’s always know best!

She Makes Me Mould Myself Into A Better Person

Without being pushed I wouldn’t have gone to university, I wouldn’t have done the course I loved (but thought was too difficult for me). I would have taken the ‘easier’ option of a placement alongside one of my best friends rather than going it alone. She reads through my CV to improve it, despite not really understanding what I do.

 photo c861af5b-ba8e-4d39-8402-df5a76e0adff_zpszmi6ahoc.jpg photo 2014-12-03 14.13.17_zps34fcy3en.jpg photo 2014-12-03 14.13.11_zpsxy2gzogs.jpg

She Arranged a Fab 21st Birthday For Me

Not only did she manage to arrange something so utterly perfect for me (read about it here), but she and the rest of the family managed to keep it secret until the night before. Even then it was my nan that spilled it..I spent a lot of my time off work over my birthday with my mum, it was so lovely to have some quality time!

She’d Do Virtually Anything for Her Daughters

I’d been at university for two weeks when she drove to Kent from the midlands to see me, then drove me all the way back and an hour further on to be reunited with Will. All because she wanted to see me smile. I’m so grateful for that day, and for everything else she’s done!

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She’s NOT Sympathetic

Anyone who knows my mum will agree with this. A complaint of a headache will result in a packet of painkillers being thrown in our direction, a cry about exams will get me a chat: “we go through this every year, and every year you do amazingly.”

Yet having said that, she is sympathetic when she needs to be. She looked after me after my nose operation, including sitting on my feet when my hallucinations made me feel like my legs were floating. And after my last A-Level maths exam (which really didn’t go as well as it should have done), when I burst into tears in the middle of town, she bought me chocolate and let me be miserable for an evening.

She Knows What Suits Me

My mum is the only person who I would trust to buy me makeup (she did well on her last trip through duty-free, picking me up MAC Craving which I’ve loved ever since). I would also trust her to pick me up clothes, she instinctively knows if I will love something and what size I will need. Not only that, she shares the same taste in music – we’re desperate to see Bon Jovi, and saw Tom Jones last summer too.

She Would Always Write A Note for PE

Well, not always. But if it was that time of the month, or if I’d had a bad night’s sleep I’d know I could always get out of it. Particularly handy when it came to the football lessons each year – it just wasn’t my thing!

Disclaimer: I was asked to write this post advertising Parkdean Holiday’s Mother’s Day competition, which you can find and enter here. I was sent some goodies to compensate for my time, but no money exchanged hands… 

…And, obviously, all opinions are my own. Because my mum is awesome and definitely one in a million! Why is your mum the best?

Lifestyle: 21st Celebrations and Surprises

Many of you know I turned 21 last week, and I was majorly excited about it. I don’t tend to get that excited for birthdays, but I had lots of surprises planned for me, some days of work, and you’re only 21 once! A lot of you were keen to hear about my surprises, so here’s a pretty photo heavy post for you all!

 photo 2014-12-02222614_zps1fe6e22c.jpg photo 2014-12-03191851_zps71218afb.jpgA lovely family friend made me this beautiful bunting. It’s so utterly me, and will go perfectly in my room this year. I love it, and it’s a great permanent reminder of the weekend!

 photo 2014-11-29195916_zps94ec3809.jpgThe weekend pretty much kicked off with a romantic meal, all cooked by my boyfriend. He served up Cheese Souffles (which I love), Steak, Homemade Chips, and his special Whisky Peppercorn Sauce (we ate the leftovers by the spoonful – slightly more classy than last time when we drank from the jug!). And Chocolate Peanut Fondants for afters – just divine! Washed down with a nice bottle of red too, it was a perfect evening!

The Monday consisted of visiting grandparents and desperately shopping for a birthday dress – more on that saga to come! This was a bittersweet day for me. I was a Granddad’s girl through and through, I adored my maternal Grandad. Sadly he was diagnosed with a very fast progressing Alzheimer’s five years ago, and four years ago was admitted to emergency care after a major downturn. He hasn’t recognised me or anyone else since, yet it still felt right to go and share some of my birthday celebrations with him. Alzheimer’s is an absolute bitch of a disease, and one that doesn’t get nearly enough support or recognition.

 photo 2014-12-02202157_zpsa5b3368c.jpg photo 2014-12-02090249_zps512168d0.jpgMy actual day started with (of course!) presents! My darling dog took it upon himself to help unwrap them, and succeeded in glueing his jaws together. I was super-proud as the ‘play dead’ trick I taught him meant he kept still enough for me to pick chewed up sellotape from his teeth. Fun job for the birthday girl! I was then treated to the best brunch of a dippy egg with toast soldiers, before nipping out to get my nails done.

 photo 2014-12-02222124_zps3043e72e.jpgBalloons and more presents later, it was time to head out for a family meal. My gifts were so thoughtful – my boyfriend got me an engraved locket which is adorable, my parents bought my camera in the year but very generously got me the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette, a teapot and some other goodies. My sister spent her first wage packet on an umbrella, which I’m so very thankful for. And typically it’s not rained here since! My friends know me so well, and got me some lovely personalised gifts, Reese’s peanut bells, nail polishes, and Aldi dark chocolate amongst other things. And W’s parents were far too generous, and I have the Enrapture Hot Rollers to play with soon (I couldn’t fit them in my case, so excited to have a go!).

 photo 2014-12-02212409_zpsa16796cb.jpg photo 2014-12-02212439_zpseeb28119.jpgFood is a major part of my birthdays, and I’d really struggled with where to go. It’s difficult with my tomato allergy, my sister’s severe citrus allergy, and my mum’s aversion to cheese. In the end I went for the Red Lion again, and wasn’t disappointed. Excellent allergy service, and wonderful food. Even if W’s pate did look suspicious! My pulled pork fritter was definitely all that I had imagined and more…

 photo 2014-12-02222432_zpsc625ffc2.jpg photo 2014-12-02222543_zps88be2c50.jpg photo 2014-12-02223233_zps6431ac47.jpgThe stunning cake was made by my dad, and consisted of vanilla, caramel, caramel-chocolate and chocolate layers, sandwiches with caramel, topped with chocolate and sprayed with edible shimmer. It was absolutely immense in both size and taste – thanks dad!

And now for my birthday surprise…that wasn’t a surprise as my nan managed to blurt it out the night before. Well done to everyone else for keeping it secret though – even the lady in the local bank knew what it was and not to say!

 photo 2014-12-03141306_zpsaa851c71.jpg photo 2014-12-03141317_zps5c9b3637.jpg photo 2014-12-03141242_zpsd16c28c4.jpg photo 2014-12-03125300_zps01f0e7bf.jpgWe went curling! Beckworth Emporium introduced curling slots to their Christmas ice rink, and my mum booked one up months ago. Something I’ve always wanted to do, it was so much fun. The group of us definitely got better as time went on, I fell the most (and slid on my bottom trying to get up as everyone was laughing too much to help), and my sister turned out to be the best. If ever you have the chance to go curling (which is difficult, as there’s generally only one place in the country!) I highly recommend it. My muscles didn’t agree for the first few days, but now I’m desperate to go back. It’s bought the ice bug on too; me and W are trying out ice skating just before Christmas to try and get into the festive mood!

I had such an amazing birthday – so many people put in their time and effort, and I’m just hugely grateful. It wasn’t extravagant, it wasn’t a huge party, but it was totally me, and I loved every minute. Thank you everyone!

Do you like surprises? Ever been curling?