It feels like far longer than a fortnight since I last penned one of these posts – I’ve enjoyed plenty of time off studying, although my next ‘exam’ kicks in this evening. It’s an online fortnight course, with an element similar to coursework and a multiple-choice exam in a few months. One of the easiest ones I need to do, then I’ll crack on with studying for September’s exams. It’s never ending…though I’m enjoying it (despite the moaning!). Here’s what’s been making me smile…
Early Friday finishes. My office shuts mid-afternoon before a Bank Holiday so I was on my sofa with a cuppa before 4pm. Bliss.
Impromptu meet-ups with my besties, meaning we saw each other two weekends in a row.
Wandering around Canterbury and grabbing a Pork & Co roll – and a black pudding scotch egg for the next day. I don’t know why I didn’t try one of their scotch eggs before I moved away from the shop, it was delicious!
My new mattress topped from Eve. It’s made my bed so much comfier, I’m having a hard time getting out of it in the mornings…I highly recommend it if you’re living with a less than perfect mattress in a rented place.
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.
So 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.
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.
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.
But 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?
Ahhh, the sweet, sweet taste of freedom. Somehow the end of exams isn’t so great when the next run are only 5 months away (and you’ve got an online one in 4 weeks) but it was SUCH a relief to get these ones out of the way. Not least because my arm felt horrendous after 6.5 hours of constant writing. Now just the long wait until July to find out if I’m one of the 40ish% who pass! Here’s what else I’ve been loving recently…
A whole day of meetings on the top floor of our office. We had stunning views of London all day.
Vegan Mushroom & Lentil Bolognese – based on my best-ever tomato-free bolognese recipe, this was a delicious meat-free version. So good…though even better when I made it non-vegan and covered it in parmesan.
Early morning study sessions. I might be weird for this, but I love getting up ridiculously early to revise. I’m so much more productive in the mornings!
Buck’s Fizz & Pain au Chocolat. We went to the sunrise service at our local church on Easter Sunday, followed by bubbles and pastries. It was such a lovely way to start out a day of revision and chocolate!
Lamb. I practically fought with another woman over the last half-leg in Putney, then roasted it with plenty of garlic in a bed of hay. It was perfect – especially with a rich potato boulangerie and green veg.
Exams being over. Nuff said.
Pizza & Cocktail date. We saw my exams off with an evening at The Dynamo. As usual the pizza was great despite the special being unavailable (my fav is there prosciutto, fennel and pomegranate white pizza) and our drinks were strong and delicious. Shame about the dreadful service that evening though!
A day of spring cleaning. Little jobs that had been overlooked have now been done – and my shower is sparkling!
Lunch at Pollen Street Social. Delicious, and nice to add another Michelin Star to my list! We had to scrap our afternoon plans and nap instead, as 3 courses turned into 7…
A date with my besties! We wandered around Putney, enjoyed pizza, cinnamon buns and hot chocolate and planned next month’s trip to Go Ape.
Homemade ice-cream. We’ve been using the ice-cream maker attachment on the Kitchen Aid to make an ice-cream each month. This weekend we may Hay & Strawberry inspired by Chin Chin Labs. Sooooo yum!
The London Marathon – it’s one of my favourite sporting events. Congrats to all who took part!
I remember when I did the first of this ‘series’ I said it would be regular – and that was 8 months ago now. Whoops!
I genuinely can’t believe how quickly time is going; I’ve been working at my graduate job for over seven months now, which is just insane. Some days it feels as though I’ve only been there a week! I’ve found it quite tough going if I’m honest; I love my job and my team, but I do think I’m learning a bit too slowly. During my placement year I picked things up really quickly, likewise with studying, so I’m a bit frustrated with my progress. Everyone has told me not to be so hard on myself, but it’s difficult to break the habit!
The last few weeks have been virtually all taken up with studying for my first professional exam – it’s probably the chunkiest one I will do (and with 400 hours minimum recommended study time, I’m glad!) and quite frankly I’m reallyy nervous about the exam. Strange really, as this is the first exam where I can just retake without any serious problems, yet I’m more nervous than I’ve been before! Other that studying, I’ve concentrated on cooking (SO many new recipes to share). My exploring of London has slowed right down over the revision period, though we did visit York for a few days which was wonderful. So, pretty quiet, pretty uneventful here!
Doing – studying. Revising. Studying.
Visiting – York.
Watching – Broadchurch, Bond films.
Reading – Dorothy Koomson’s “My Best Friend’s Girl” (a.k.a. my all time favourite book). Old issues of Perfect Wedding. Revision notes.
Eating – a homemade Mexican feast (Pork Pilbil, refried beans, pickled onions and green rice). Lot’s of Heck products. Their vegetarian Thai Bites* are delish!
Lusting – Tarte In The Bloom palette. Midi skirts.
Craving – Brunch (I’m planning a treat visit to Duck & Waffle after my exams!). Sunshine. A nice long lie in.
I’ve seen a lot of posts like this floating around, and now I’ve finally sat down and written one myself. I’d been meaning to for a while, but actually it was surprisingly hard. It was difficult thinking back over my teenage years as there were a lot of hard times for me. It was difficult writing it all down, then editing out the bits I really, really don’t want out there.
Don’t Give in to Pressure
Whether it’s pressure to straighten your hair because it’s ‘cool.’ Pressure to do things you don’t want to do. Pressure to pretend not to know the answer in class. Just be yourself.
I only wish I’d felt freer to be myself when I was younger. I know without doubt that no-one I went to school with knew the ‘real’ me at all, and I was SO much happier at university when I wasn’t pretending to be someone else.
Be Kinder to Yourself
Actually, I should practice what I preach – even now I’m way too hard on myself. An assignment that’s not the top grade? Not good enough. A piece of work that has lots of room for improvement? I’ll beat myself up about it for weeks. Having an evening off to relax instead of studying/blogging/working/being productive? There’s virtually no chance I’ll let that happen.
I’m my own worst enemy, but I know I was far, far worse as a teenager. I cried for days over my final A-Level maths exam (and it actually still stings now – sitting here with a first class actuarial degree…).
Mum Knows Best
Unfortunate but true! Your mum really does know what’s best for you, particularly during the teenage years.
When I was 16 and looking round Sixth Forms, I was adamant I didn’t want to try and get into the (very good) local Boy’s School. Sure, it had excellent results, but I didn’t want to go to a school just because it was good. I didn’t want to be surrounded by boys. My mum nagged and argued until I eventually gave in and went to the Open Evening. She still champions the fact that I gave in that night, that I loved it. It took a lot of tears and shouting, but eventually doing what she’d been telling me all along got me into a school I loved, got me doing the A-Levels I really wanted to do, and I’m pretty sure that it paved my life path.
I also got together with W three weeks after starting at the Boy’s School – so mummy found me my future husband too…
Don’t Cut Your Hair Short
Seriously. Just don’t. The worst thing I ever, EVER did was cut my hair to a bob at the age of 13. It wasn’t a good look for me at all, those few months of growing it out (forever thankful that my hair grows super-quickly!) were awful.
Be Open to Possibilities
That spotty sixteen year old you’re dating? Those butterflies that don’t go away the further you get into your relationship? Yeah, you should have probably taken a bit more notice of them and realised just how much he meant to you.
I never expected to find my soulmate at 16. And I didn’t let myself think that way for a long time. I can actually pinpoint the exact day, the very afternoon that I realised W was the ‘one.’ It was nearly three years into our relationship. And our parents cottoned on before we did that this was ‘it’ for us.
But I also never expected that I could manage to do a mathematical degree. University wasn’t really a possibility for me until just a few months before applications opened (another part of my life when Mum knew best!). I didn’t expect to be able to train to be an Actuary – it was just a pipe-dream. Now I’m hoping to qualify in 2019.
I look back on how I was as a teenager (shy, anxious, petrified of classmates and extremely self-conscious) and I realise how far I’ve come. I definitely needed to have more self-belief back then! I don’t think I’ll ever look back on my early-teen years fondly, but they taught me a lot, they made me the person I am now – and it’s onwards and upwards from here!
What would you tell your teenage self? Any pearls of wisdom you’d like to share?
And first a disclaimer – my weekends definitely do not look like this at the moment! The day this goes live my alarm will be set for 7am (which I guess is a teeny lie-in compared to weekdays!). I’ll be out of bed and dressed by 8, and at my desk studying by 9. Taking regular breaks, of course, but I’ll study for most of the day. I might head out for a quick walk, I might do some cleaning. I’ll probably cook something like a chilli or casserole, something that I can portion up and freeze for later in the week when (yep, you’ve guessed it) I’ll be studying! Oh, the life of a student actuary…
But enough of that. Here’s my perfect weekend day. I took forward to one of these in just three weeks time!
9am – wake up. Encourage W to fetch me a cup of tea (preferably in my giant Jungle Book mug). Read the papers in bed. Generally be lazy.
10am – up, but still in PJs. Hopefully W will also cook me a yummy brunch. I love everything from a simple fruit-yoghurt combo to a full English. Lately we’ve been making a Jamie Oliver recipe which is like a cross between a crumpet and a muffin. Served with butter made from Goat’s milk (thank’s St Helen’s Farm!) they are delicious!
11am – by this point, we’ll be awake and dressed. Usually we like to get out and about when we’re not too busy – now we’re living in London there’s so many areas to explore. I love Spitalfields and Portobello, but we’re trying to tick off as many places as possible. Any suggestions?
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1pm – time for lunch. Street food is generally our pick of choice, with Maltby Street being out current favourite. If it’s colder the Tartiflette there is delicious, but if the weather isn’t great a trip to Wholefoods for some soup is always a winner.
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4pm – we’ll head home for a good cuppa and a cheeky slice of cake. Or if I’m lucky we’ll head to our favourite cafe in Putney for a Hot Chocolate and Cinnamon bun. Seriously, they are SO good!
5pm – time to start cooking dinner. We pretty much always have a roast on Sundays, even just the two of us. I just can’t resist having the leftovers to be creative with during the week! Usually it’s chicken, but we also love brisket and lamb. Whilst dinner is cooking I’ll usually do some blogging or wedding planning (or studying!) or I’ll have a nice, long pampering shower.
7pm – dinner time, preferably candlelit with a glass or two of wine. We’re romantics at heart!
8pm – after we’ve washed up, we’ll usually put a film on. We’re currently trying to get through all of the Bond films – there’s some brilliant ones. I also love The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game.
9pm – I’ve got a terrible sweet tooth at the moment, so at this point I might give in and let myself have some chocolate. I’m really trying to kick this habit though!
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11pm – bed time. I’ll probably read my Kindle for a bit before I head off to sleep.
Writing this has made me realise just how much I miss a relaxing weekend! Remember to follow me on Instagram to keep up to date with me, I’m not promising hugely regular blogging until after exams now…
Eek, it’s so nearly exam time now. With three weeks to go I’m pretty much studying none-stop. I’m finding it weird to be only studying for one exam (I almost miss having seven to study for – at least there was variety!) but I am looking forward to it all being over and getting a bit more of a social life back!
A burger and bride-to-be date. Lots of wedding planning chat with my friend who gets married in September got both of us over-excited!
Spending the whole day in bed. Admittedly I had THE most horrendous migraine I’ve ever had (seriously, I couldn’t ever walk/talk/eat) but I felt so relaxed the next day.
Chicken soup. W ran out the morning I was ill to stock me up on painkillers and soup for my lunch – by the time I could stomach food it was just what I needed!
Drinks with school friends. It had been far too long since we had caught up!
Finding the perfect white shirt. On weekends I like them pillow-y soft and the right balance between fitted and baggy. I’ve been looking for a replacement one for two years and H&M finally came good.
Booking our wedding transport – so excited to be driven to church in a cream VW Campervan!
Homemade pizza. I spread the base (recipe here) with soft goat’s cheese, topped with prosciutto, courgette, a teeny bit of mozzarella and some fresh basil. So fresh, so yum.
A massive Oasis spending spree. I love their work clothes, but they are a little on the pricey side. My bonus came in last week so I went hauling and now I feel so much happier with my work wardrobe!
I’m imagining that the next fortnight will be taken up entirely by revision (though having said that, I do have a cheeky trip to York booked!) – I hope yours will be more exciting! What’s made you happy recently?
Dear 2017; please slow down. Before I know it, April will be here and my exams will be on top of me. It’s such a scary thought to know they are next month. For some reason (and I don’t really know why!) I’m finding my professional exams a whole lot more daunting that anything I’ve ever done before.
Not being diagnosed with anything nasty. I’ve had a bit of a health scare recently and after an obscene amount of blood tests (and a very long wait for a couple of very quick chest x-rays) the really scary things have been crossed off the list. Not exactly a resolution, but a huge relief! Note to self: don’t ignore symptoms for so long again!
Pancake Day! We had two pancakes courses; rolled crepes stuffed with chicken, bacon, mushrooms and spinach in a creamy sauce (then topped with cheese and grilled until crispy), and fluffy American pancakes with maple syrup. I may or may not have have some for lunch too. Possibly with lemon and sugar…
Also, I got W to eat mushrooms in the above pancakes – for the first time ever!
Dog-sitting. I looked after the family dog at the beginning of the month. I got to raid my parents’ food cupboards, enjoy their bath and have puppy cuddles. My idea of a pur-fect Friday night.
Working in Lloyd’s of London. I rotate into different teams as part of my graduate scheme, and I managed to be in the position to work in Lloyd’s for a week. It was such a different environment!
Cooking a delicious Lamb Tagine. I pretty much made the recipe up, but it was SO. GOOD.
My new backpack. I need to pick one up for our main holiday in the summer and whilst it’s probably not the most practical, I do love it!
Franco Manca is coming to Putney. It is on schedule to open next month and I’m so looking forward to it. It’s also on my walk home from the station which is dangerous…
Lighter nights. If I wasn’t staying late to study, I wouldn’t be getting home in the dark!
Heading to a wedding fair. I find these things so strange, but it was fun to have a mooch around.
Tesco now do a tomato-free pizza. Admittedly it’s £5.35 and I’d sooner go to Franco Manca (see no.8) for an extra couple of ££, but it’s nice to have in the freezer.
Eating alllll the chocolate and having a good gossip with my girlies. The best way to spend a Sunday!
Now, I’ve never officially lived alone. During my second and final year at university I lived with some of the best housemates ever. After a summer flitting between both of our parental homes, me and W moved in together pretty quickly after we graduated. Something glinting on the second finger of my left hand seems to suggest I won’t be getting rid of him anytime soon!
But I have spent a few good chunks of time on my own. During my placement year I had a rather odd living situation (I rented a spare room – with a lovely live-in landlady, her partner, three dogs and a cat) and would regularly have the house to myself for a couple of weeks. And, of course, this January W spent the month in Chile. So I’ve definitely had my fair share of living alone – and I’ve definitely worked out what makes it a not-so-great experience, and how to make it work.
Plan Something Fun
During my placement year, I saw W pretty every other weekend. Much as I hated our LDR, it gave me something to look forward to – and we always made the most of our time (no vegetating on the sofa for a whole Saturday…). Whether it was exploring a cute little village I’d discovered, heading to a new cafe or getting the train to Brighton, having something to look forward to made the lonely evenings worth it!
I remembered that when he was away, and made plans months in advance. Some fell through, but I was so grateful to spend the weekend with one of my best friends, and also another weekend with my Mummy. Both involved stuffing ourselves silly with pie. One involved homeware browsing and bargain coat-buying. The other involved a lot of cake and a theatre trip. Both were just what I needed to keep my occupied!
Schedule in Girly Time
Now it might just be me, but sometimes I feel a litttttleeeee selfish when I have girly time when I live with W. Much as I love smoothing on a facemask, lighting some candles and painting my nails, there’s always something else to do! We love baking together, playing on the Xbox – even our usual messing around just isn’t possible during a pamper evening (wen you’ve seen the damage a tickle fight does to freshly painted nails you’ll understand!). Him being away gave me the excuse to have perfectly manicured nails, I used a facemask every other day and I danced to Taylor Swift every night.
Oh, and I was able to watch Bridget Jones, 50 First Dates AND Bride Wars without anyone whinging all the way through it. #Winning!
Have a Backup/Emergency Plan
Now, I’m quite accident prone. In fact, I’m really proud of the fact that I only had ONE accident during January (picked up a pan that had been in the oven with bare hands; 3 fingers and my thumb on my writing hand blistered…). But accidents like this aside, I made sure someone nearby had spare keys to our flat/block (because I was convinced I would lock myself out – I didn’t). I made W show me exactly where the fuse box/water supply bits etc were so I could ‘fix’ things in an emergency. I made a big effort to make friends locally so I had people I could rely on in an emergency.
As you can see, I’m a planner. I didn’t need to do that, I had no emergencies, but it gave me a massive peace of mind.
Weirdly, I had absolutely no problem with cooking for myself every night at university. This January, however, I hated it. I would get home from work, study for an hour or two, then realise I had to cook. Quite often it was nearing 10pm before I sat down with some food. Trust me, the h-anger was real!
For the last few weeks I got into a routine where I’d prep a few things over the weekend (even if it was just chopping veg) and it definitely helped. There was less relying on pizza – and it’s put me in a better meal-prep frame of mind now he’s back too!
Normally I’m a lover of silence. I don’t listen to music. I work/study without any background noice. I rarely use headphones. However even I needed SOME background noise when in a house on my own. My favourite trick is to put the radio on, as the chit-chat at least makes me feel like I’m having a conversation – I had one study day where I didn’t speak AT ALL to anyone. Sad day!
It got to around 4pm one study day in January when I realised I hadn’t spoken a single word. I wandered to Sainsbury’s and it made me feel SO much better. Until I figured out that I’d used the self-service checkouts and still hadn’t spoken to anyone…
But still, just getting out and about will instantly make you feel a bit less secluded. I also found it a great excuse to bulk take photos for my Instagram feed – W hates me taking snaps of random houses, so doing it when he wasn’t amount (plus overcast January days work so well for outside photography!) worked out nicely.
Don’t Watch Scary Things
Now, I’m a huge fan of Silent Witness. I love it. I think it’s one of the most realistic crime dramas about, the acting is excellent and it’s pretty much true to scientific detail. Some of the episodes in the 2017 season were some of the best I’ve watched, and that in itself was a massive, massive problem. The first story was about a human trafficking ring, and I watch it the first weekend W was away. It had some pretty horrifying scenes and despite not being overly sensitive it really affected me. Lesson learnt, only watch nice things!
Make The Most Of It!
For me, having W away meant I could be hugely productive. I could get up at 6am and exercise. I could study for a few hours after work, come home and still squeeze in a few hours of blogging. Those few weeks meant I managed to catch up on my study plan (events over my Christmas holiday meant I was quite a bit behind where I wanted to be), and I got a shit-tonne of blog posts drafted up and scheduled. Oh, and it helps to stockpile your favourite chocolate too!
It also meant I could starfish in a king-size bed. Not have to keep putting the toilet seat down. Eat mushrooms and seafood. Have cushions and blankets covered the sofa.
Woo, back to the fortnightly posts! This year is flashing by so quickly it’s rather scary…though I’d so glad January went quickly (I did NOT enjoy living on my own!).
These last two weeks have been strange. Busy, exhausting, but really rather satisfying too. Let’s chat about the little happy things!
Here’s what’s been making me happy recently…
“Breaking in” my wedding shoes. A.K.A wearing them with every opportunity. I did the hoovering in them last week, though trying to hide them from W is torture.
Valentine’s! We’re not huge fans of it, but we set aside the evening for a good meal (duck breast followed by souffles – he’s amazeballs!). I was also ‘surprised’ with the Jo Malone perfume I’d been subtly talking about for a while…
Booking the music for our wedding. One of the best Saturday evenings in February involved a bottle of wine and several hours listening to demos. Let’s just say there’s some interesting ones out there, but I’m SO happy with who we’ve managed to get!
My work’s Christmas dinner.Seriously. We had it in a hotel near Liverpool in the middle of February. I ate scallops, beef cheeks and a (disappointing) chocolate dessert and drank lots of (very good) wine.
Starting my graduate rotations at work. It’s been great to learn about other functions and network.
Perfecting my tomato-free Bolognese. Recipe coming soon!
Finishing up my tutorials and a celebratory lunch (Chinese) with my coursemates. Though considering the exam is in April, I’m not sure what we were celebrating…
Spending a Saturday in Canterbury with my best friends. It felt like ages since we had a good catch up. We ate cakes and gossiped for hours!
Eggs Chauncer at Tiny Tim’s, a Canterbury institution. It was English muffins, ham, mushrooms, poached eggs and rarebit sauce. I think eggs should be served with a cheesy sauce more often…
February’s Dominique Ansel Cronut. It was Raspberry & Orange blossom FYI. Best New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever made!
What are the little things that make you happy?