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Losing my weight loss mojo

Fitness

This photo was taken in May last year, just after we'd got back from our honeymoon in Bali.  I wasn't at my slimmest then (five weeks of eating your way around an island will do that to you) but I definitely felt confident and happy with my weight.  I stuck with my exercise plans after returning from holiday; running a few times a week and going to the gym or to classes in the evenings.  I guess it all started to slow down in August/September time - a flurry of weekends away, festivals, and then on into Autumn with all of the allure of comfort foods and weekends spent hibernating meant I well and truly lost my weight loss mojo.

I should have reined it back in really - but come December I was all about the Christmas food; tins of Celebrations, mince pies, mulled wine and party food.  I am that person who makes Christmas last from 15 November to 1 February and I have well and truly done it this time.  I got (and bought myself) so much chocolate for Christmas that I still have a chocolate orange, two packs of Toffifee and a Hotel Chocolat box of chocolates in my cupboard.  I promised my friend Kate that I would show solidarity and give up chocolate and cake with her for lent... and had my hand in a tin of Celebrations a few days later at work.  Last year I was whipping myself up green smoothies for breakfast, preparing lunches of chicken and rice and having dinners from the slow cooker - chocolate and sweets were a rarity and I was focussed on healthy and nutritious food.  But now, I just seem to have completely lost my motivation for healthy eating and I find myself constantly craving chocolate and crisps.  As soon as I get home from work I have my hand in the biscuit tin or am digging around for a bag of Kettle Chips and a pot of dip, and my trips to the Co-Op on my lunch break often leave me returning with a Wispa or a bag of Mini Eggs (Easter chocolate is definitely another of my weaknesses).

As if treating myself like a human dustbin wasn't bad enough, I seem to have lost all of my enthusiasm for exercise.  I think I've been to the gym three or four times this year, and probably been out for a run about the same number of times.  My health has been suffering (apparently surviving mainly on beige foods and sugar doesn't do wonders for your immune system) and I've been hit with a serious of illnesses, from coughs and colds to gastroenteritis.  I'm currently writing this whilst suffering from a chesty cough that leaves me gasping for breath and sounding like a deranged seal.  I'm craving some fresh air but the cold just gets straight on my chest and makes me cough - so I spent the whole of last weekend and most evenings this week in my pyjamas feeling sorry for myself.

I'm cross with myself - I'm cross with myself because since that photo was taken I've put on 12lbs, and most of my trousers don't fit anymore.  I'm nudging into the next dress size up and if I carry on this way I'm going to have to buy a completely new wardrobe.  And yet in my most depressed moments, looking in the mirror almost in tears at how my body has changed, I still reach for the comforting bar of chocolate.

I know I have to stop this cycle now, and I plan to ease myself gently into cleaner eating and exercise.  I've made the mistake in the past of going from doing nothing to an ambitious gym plan of aiming to work out four times a week and survive on quinoa and kale - and it never works.  The reality is that even if I went for one run a week it would be better than I'm doing now - and swapping my daily chocolate bar for a Nakd bar or piece of fruit would be a step in the right direction.  I want to draw a line under those pesky 12lbs now and start getting those numbers on the scale moving downwards. Consider this blog post me making myself accountable - and feel free to tell me off if you see me gorging on Mini Eggs over the next few weeks...

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Farfetch Fashion Week Wishlist

Although I didn't manage to make it up to London Fashion Week A/W16, I eagerly followed lots of my favourite bloggers as they instagrammed, blogged and Snapchatted their way around various shows.  My favourite blogger coverage came from Inthefrow who went to some of the shows I would love to one day go to - serious envy at seeing her front row at Burberry in a beautiful Burberry trench (heart eyes emoji!) I loved her monochrome look - so classic and stylish.

One of my favourite parts of London Fashion Week is always the awesome street style, and seeing what trends pop up not just on the catwalks but outside of the shows.  I'm now adding metallic loafers, oversized clutches and military jackets to my must-own wishlist for the coming months.  I love adding all the street style snaps to my outfit inspiration Pinterest boards.

In homage to all the fabulous looks being spotted on the streets of London town, Farfetch featured me on their Google+ and asked me to pick my fashion week favourites.  I got to show off my own LFW inspired street style look (taking major tips from InTheFrow's leather trousers look at Burberry!) and pick some of the pieces from Farfetch that I would definitely rock at LFW.

Farfetch said:
As we hit the runways for London Fashion Week, we took some tips from style blogger Rosie Tapping to help us craft a simple street-style look that works perfectly for the mean city streets. Rosie paired sharp black leather looks from Givenchy and Balmain with a pair of nude Loeffler Randal sandals for a composed aesthetic that is edgy and on-point.

Biker jacket, Givenchy, £3450 | Leather trousers, Balmain | Sandals, Loeffler Randall, £407

What do you think of my picks? I absolutely love those sandals in particular - I'm going to try and save up my pennies as I think they would be perfect to wear with jeans or leather trousers when it's finally warm enough for peep toes!

Here are some more items filling up my Farfetch wishlist...

FarFetch Wishlist



Those Jimmy Choo sandals in particular also make me dream of the summer - they're so bright and cheerful that you couldn't fail to have a smile on your face if you were packing them in your suitcase and preparing to jet off for some sunshine.  Less colourful, but I adore the YSL Monogram bag, it's so simple and would never go out of style.  I really had better get saving!

Did you eagerly follow LFW AW16? Did you spot any street style trends you're eager to try out?


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Dogs in Bali (or, dogs, I met and liked)

When we decided on Bali for our honeymoon last year, I was surprised by how many people mentioned to me the epidemic of stray dogs in the country, and worried that I would be upset by seeing so many dogs who were homeless and searching for food.  Seeing animals suffering is a real emotional trigger for me - I consider myself to be quite a resilient person and rarely get upset by things, but especially since having Bodhi I find that I just want to look after animals and care for them.  Dogs especially are so innocent and loving that it's hurtful to see them not being looked after.

When we arrived in Bali, I must admit that I was surprised by just how many stray dogs there were roaming the streets and beaches.  The dogs often look quite similar - the traditional Balinese dog is a mix of Australian Dingo, Chow Chow and Akita.  Until 2004, no dogs were allowed into Bali and so the breed of Bali dogs remained pure, but since then, there has been an influx of other breeds, and you can see lots of different types of dogs around the island.

Dogs of Bali
Dogs of Bali

Although the dogs seemed to be strays, I was surprised that many of them didn't seem malnourished, and often looked happy and well-fed.  I asked a Balinese lady who we met whilst staying at a holiday cottage and she explained that whilst the dogs often don't have clear 'owners', they are often fed by people in small communities in Bali, and they often keep coming back to the same families or shops. She told me that the majority of people who live on Bali are Hindus, and that their kind nature means that they often look after dogs.  (It probably helps that Hindus make daily offerings which are left on the streets, and these often contain things like sweets or other food items that are then naughtily eaten by the dogs!)

Dogs of Bali
Dogs of Bali

Many of the dogs seemed to move around in small packs.  This didn't feel threatening to me, it actually just seemed like they had their little gangs and they were happily plodding around with their friends.  None of the dogs I met or saw were aggressive, they all seemed happy in their only little worlds, cooling off in the sea or snoozing in the shade.

I met my favourite dog snoozing under a building on stilts at Balangan.  It was black and fluffy but constantly covered in sand (especially his little black nose!)

Dogs of Bali Dogs of Bali

Everywhere we went in Bali, there were dogs.  After taking photos of all of the dogs we met, Tom said I should start a spin off blog called 'Dogs of Bali'.  He then pretended that every dog we came across was trying to get their photo taken for the Dogs of Bali blog.  This one put in a lot of effort as we found him at the top of Mount Batur, after several hours of hiking to the top.  He was surrounded by greedy monkeys trying to steal everyone's breakfasts (he didn't seem to mind).

Dogs of Bali

Our last stop before we came home was Balian.  I was missing Bodhi like crazy by the time we got there, so I was secretly pleased to see so many dogs lolling on the beach - there was even a dog that lived in the hotel and belonged to the owners; he liked walking around the bar trying to get as many strokes as possible!

Dogs of Bali Dogs of Bali

Tom spent a lot of time surfing whilst we stayed here, so I made friends with this dog on the beach to try and alleviate my boredom.  We played a lot of games of fetch with coconut skins!

Dogs of Bali Dogs of Bali

Sadly, of course not all of the dogs in Bali are well looked after, and cruelty towards the dogs does happen.  The Balinese government is incredibly wary of incidents of aggression towards tourists, and of the spread of rabies, and so there are sometimes reported culls of dogs from the streets in popular tourist spots.  The dogs also risk being hit by cars, getting illnesses or disease, or not being fed and watered.  Several charities on the island work to look after these dogs - the one I heard about whilst I was there was BARC - the Bali dog Adoption and Rehabilitation Centre.  You can learn more about their work and make a donation to their charity if you so wish on their website.  We looked into whether we could volunteer to help BARC whilst we were in Ubud, but as we were only there for two days we just weren't able to - I'd imagine it's incredibly rewarding though and something I'd definitely do if I was going back for longer.

Whilst in Bali we visited the Gili Islands for a week or so.  They're such small islands that there are no cars or motorbikes - but also no dogs! Some people saw this as a win but I was disappointed to not be around doggies for a few days.  On the Gili Islands however, there are a lot of cats (though none of the cats have tails - weird).  This one hopped up onto Tom's lap whilst he was eating his lunch one day and I thought I'd pop this photo in too - just for all of the cat lovers out there...

Cat on Gili Trawangan

Now I've sorted all of my photos from Bali (and prioritised blogging about the dogs I met - ha!) I'm going to share some more posts from my Bali adventures, so do let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like me to blog about.  In the meantime, go and find a dog and fuss it.  Dogs are the best.

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A spa day, afternoon tea and a nose around Bournemouth Hilton Hotel

There comes a point at which a spa day is no longer a little treat popped in the diary as something to look forward to, and instead turns into something which is absolutely necessary due to your general emotional state.  This point may come just before you're about to go into multiple job interviews at work, and are in the final, stressful stages of selling your house (got the job, lost the house, FYI.) And so it was, that a few Saturdays ago, I found myself getting ready to make a trip to the eForea Spa at the new Bournemouth Hilton Hotel, knowing that total relaxation was just what was needed.  I was just digging out my bikini when my phone rang.  It was Tom, who started the phonecall with my least favourite eight words - "Try not to worry, but I'm in hospital".  It transpired that on Tom's morning surf, his surfboard had gone rogue and hit him in the face, meaning that he had a bit of a hole in his face and had to be stitched up.

Luckily, Tom realised just how much I needed this spa day, and gamely came straight to the hotel from the hospital. Unfortunately this meant that we arrived too late for my booked Bournemouth Bliss massage (a treatment that includes a foot massage, deep tissue massage and a facial) but the spa were really accomodating and found another treatment that perfectly fit the time we had left.  The week before my spa visit I'd come to the Bournemouth Hilton for a tasting evening at their Schpoons and Forx restaurant, and when I arrived I was reminded just how stunning the interior of the hotel was.  Even the lobby is ridiculously cool.

Bournemouth Hilton Hotel Lobby eForea Spa Hilton Hotel Bournemouth

When I entered the spa, I instantly felt relaxed.  I absolutely hate being late, and turning up half an hour late for a booked appointment with a post-hospital husband in tow meant that I was more than a little bit a bit on edge when I arrived at the spa reception. The spa staff were really understanding and we went through the various treatments to select one that could be done in the time that was left (the one we chose also came with afternoon tea, which was a bit of a win!) Tom went off to relax by the pool and I was taken into their treatment rooms for a massage.  I was treated to an exfoliating scrub, all cleansed off with an Elemis cactus bristle body brush.  I then had the most wonderful all over body massage - it was so soothing and calming and just what the Doctor ordered; it definitely helped iron out all of the tension I'd accumulated through the stress of the house move and job pressure.

Pool at Hilton Bournemouth eForea Spa, Hilton Hotel, Bournemouth

I came away with some Elemis treats and a list of recommendations to soothe my winter chilled skin (I have a lot of patches of dry skin at the moment, but the therapist has given me some great suggestions of products I can use to alleviate my scaliness, including an Elemis Milk Bath that can also be used neat on the skin that's now high on my wishlist). After my treatment we lay by the pool for a little while, as well as checking out the sauna and steam room.  All that relaxing meant we were a little peckish, so we decided to head to the Schpoons and Forx restaurant for a light lunch.  The lunch menu was just as impressive as the dinner I had there with some other bloggers a few days before - it really is a must visit if you're looking for a new eatery to try in Bournemouth.

After lunch we were given a tour of the hotel.  The hotel prides itself on its quirky, trendy interior, and I was totally wowed by all of the rooms and conference areas (I'm saving a lot of my photos for house inspiration whenever we finally do move, as the design really was truly breathtaking).  The bespoke interiors and furnishings were designed by Ted Baker founder Ray Kelvin, and you can see his creative stylings throughout. The hotel has eight meeting spaces, and the conference areas are just as stunning as the rooms - I'm now frantically trying to think of something I need a meeting space for just so I can hang out there for the day.

Conference Area, Hilton Hotel, Bournemouth Conference Room, Hilton Hotel, Bournemouth Review of the Bournemouth Hilton Hotel - Conference Area

All of the meeting rooms were themed - this one was called Just In Time (I think?) and had lots of cool vintage clocks and a telegram machine on the wall (it would definitely give you something to look at during a boring meeting - and how cool is that wallpaper?)

Conference Room, Hilton Hotel, Bournemouth Conference Room, Hilton Bournemouth

Having seen these photos it's probably no surprise that the hotel rooms themselves were a sight to behold.  I was close to having to be forcibly removed from the room, I definitely need to find an excuse to stay there overnight soon!

Map in the room, Hilton Bournemouth Bedroom, Hilton Hotel, Bournemouth Bedroom, Hilton Hotel, Bournemouth

I just adore all of the quirky prints and the thought that has clearly gone into styling the hotel.  Of course I had to have a peek in the bathroom - a swish bathroom is always a deal breaker for me in a hotel, but luckily this one was no disappointment.  How stunning are those tiles around the bath? Swoon.

Bathroom, Hilton Hotel, Bournemouth
Bathroom, Hilton Hotel, Bournemouth

I took so many photos but I won't bore you with too many more or this post is going to get very, very long - I'll just say that it's a definite must visit if you're coming to stay in Bournemouth.  All of their guest rooms have king size beds and 49-inch HD TVs (I have a feeling that all I would end up leaving the room for was to go to the spa!) Rooms are typically around £110-120 a night, which I think is really reasonable for a hotel that feels extremely swish and would be a really special place to stay.

After our tour we returned to the restaurant (we must have looked like the greediest guests ever!) for our afternoon tea.  Unsurprisingly, their afternoon tea was as quirky and as polished as the hotel, and it arrived in this sort of wooden box, shelf arrangement - with sandwiches, truffles, scones and cakes that I couldn't wait to try.  The hotel has an in house pastry chef, so the scones and cakes are all handmade on site, and you can definitely taste the difference - this is not your average hotel afternoon tea! The chocolate truffles were to die for, and the whole spread disappeared very quickly.

Afternoon Tea, Hilton Hotel, Bournemouth

With happy bellies and a feeling of total relaxation, we left the hotel feeling on cloud nine.  I'm already planning another spa day, and Tom is desperate to go back and have dinner at the restaurant.  The Hilton Bournemouth is hands down one of the nicest hotels I've ever visited, and I can't wait to go back.


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Staying in a cottage, and a countryside inspired wishlist

I'm currently away staying in a really pretty holiday cottage in Worcestershire with lots of my favourite ladies, celebrating Sarah's birthday.  So far we have consumed our weight in pizza, cake and sweets, been to the Brockhampton Estate (and probably spent more time in the tearooms than the manor house) and drunk a lot of prosecco - a weekend well spent I'd say!

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This is the view from the bathroom window - miles and miles of sheep-filled fields and hills in the distance.  I'm always torn between city life and countryside living - on the one hand it's so relaxing being out here in all the fresh air and the quiet, with only the sound of birdsong to wake you in the morning.  (Although the isolation can be a bit scary at times; we really are in the middle of nowhere and Katy has expressed frequent concerns that there might be people in the woods just waiting to creep out and kill us).  We went on a cake run yesterday and we had to go on quite a mission just to find the village shop, plus some of the narrow, winding country roads are not very much  for driving down! It really is very pretty out here though, it's such a beautiful part of the world.

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I hastily packed on Thursday night when I should have been preparing for another job interview - and as my mind was on other things I managed to neglect to bring anything particularly practical, so no welly boots or thick, warm coat (which became obvious yesterday in the freezing temperatures!).  Whilst drinking my cup of tea in the cosy living room this morning I had a peruse around and made a  little wishlist - I would definitely like to acquire a herringbone blazer, tweed field coat and cute printed wellies for my next weekend away.


Joules Collage

1. Olivia blazer, Joules, £99.95
2. Fedora, Christy's via ASOS, £22
3. Bee print wellies, Joules, £39.95
4. Cross body bag, Joules, £99.95
5. Tweed field coat, Joules, £229
6. Parka, ASOS, £55

I hope you're all having fab weekends - we're all currently still in our pyjamas, having had a big brunch and a glass of Bucks Fizz - it shouldn't matter that I don't have anything practical to wear as I don't think we're planning on leaving the house today - perfect.

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On relationships

I recently wrote a blog post about embracing okay, and why you shouldn't strive for perfection in all areas of your life, as life is about the sum of all of its parts.  I had a good debate on Twitter with some other bloggers afterwards who said that the one thing in life that should never just be okay is your relationship.  Some said that your relationship should always be exciting, intense, head over heels type romance - but others said that they were happy being comfortable with someone, plodding along and just enjoying each other's company.  It was also generally accepted that years and years into a relationship, it takes a lot of work to keep the exhiliration and butterflies alive.

img credit: weddingideasmag.com

Tom and I have been together for almost six years now, and have almost been married a year.  I definitely think that just putting even just a little effort into being kind to each other and supporting each other really pays off.  We also try and 'give each other a break' as much as possible and let things go, particularly if the other person is having a tough week or if it's just not worth it to pick up on something.  (Behind every great relationship is two people constantly letting things go!)

I was recently sent an article on expert tips to be closer to your spouse, and I found some of them really interesting.  I am a bit of a geek about psychotherapy and coaching (I've even just started an online Life Coaching Diploma) and these were all written by therapists, coaches and counsellors, so they're all proven ways to improve relationships.  Although some of them I'm less sure of, there are several that really gel with me and I know I could try harder to do.  There are 27 in total, but here are my five favourites.

001. Being vulnerable is okay - Trust your partner with your fears and anxieties. (Don't continually protect yourself by trying to appear to be in control).

Our book club recently read Brene Brown - Daring Greatly, which is an amazing book about taking the courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable.  Brene Brown says "Connection is the energy that is created between people when they feel, seen, heard and valued - when they can give and receive without judgement."  Sometimes, even though it's difficult, you have to just be yourself, and be honest about the way you feel (even if it's super scary).

002. Leave yourself out of the conversation -You risk alienating your partner if you’re regularly interrupting their conversation with comments like ‘that’s exactly what I went through.’

This is a bit of a personal bugbear of mine, not just in relationships but in conversations generally.  It really causes a rift if people constantly switch the conversations back to their own personal experiences.  I do try and constantly work on my listening skills - it's a much better approach to just listen and try and understand things from their perspective.
003. Rid yourself of distractions - Life and work distractions can become paramount in our minds and during busy times it's often your partner that falls down the priority list.  When other things are on your mind it's easy to be distracted and not focus on spending quality time together.

This is definitely one that I could work on - I am a bit naughty at being on my phone when we're watching a film, having the laptop out and tapping away at blog posts or thinking about the day I had at work.  I have a friend who recently told me that she always puts her phone on airplane mode when it's date night (or even when she's out with friends) as the best thing you can do for a person is give them your undivided attention.

004. Take some 'me' time - Sometimes the secret to a stronger relationship is learning to spend time away from each other.

I totally agree with this.  I think that having your own independence, hobbies and friends really is the foundation to any great relationship.  When Tom and I spend time apart I always look forward to seeing him so much more and we focus on spending quality time together.
005. Think of your relationship as 'seasons' - Instead of thinking of your relationship as an arc - with a beginning, middle and an end - try to think of it in terms of the seasons; spring, summer, autumn and winter.

I haven't thought about this before but I think this is a positive outlook to have on a relationship.  Sometimes things can feel bleak and difficult, or big changes can drive a wedge between you, but if you work through them you can come out of the other side and things can grow and flourish again (cheesy but true).

What are your tips for staying close to your partner?

*this is a collaborative post
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Valentine's night in with Rakuten

Well, what a long day today has been! There's a lot going on at work at the moment which it's probably not appropriate to talk about here, but let's just say that there have been job interviews today, a lot of being assessed, and that I have come home a very tired Rosie tonight!

As such, I have dug out a little Valentine's kit that was kindly sent to me by Rakuten last week to help me celebrate.  Usually I'm not a big one for celebrating Valentine's (I'm the least slushy person ever) but this week has been quite a tough one - we also got some bad news about our house sale last week which I mentioned on instagram - so Valentine's Day is good timing for Tom and I to kick back, forget our current stresses and focus on spending some quality time together.

Valentines Rakuten Blogger campaign Valentines Rakuten Blogger campaign

My little Valentine's kit contained lots of sweets, candles, and beauty products and skincare bits for the perfect Valentine's night in.  Whilst I do love going out to restaurants for meals, or for other date nights to places like the cinema, or for a drink, my true love will always be a cosy night in with a takeaway and a DVD.

I was also given a £50 voucher to spend on Rakuten, so I chose some films I'd either been recommended, or just looked up our street, to spend my voucher on.  Here's what I chose...

Valentines Rakuten Blogger campaign

As you can see, we chose Dallas Buyers Club, Prisoners, Paddington, Kingsman: The Secret Service and Now You See Me.  A good mix of lighthearted fun and more thriller style flicks - I always like to watch something light after I've watched anything particularly intense or dark (I get nightmares otherwise - what a wuss!) Have you seen any of these? After a long day today I'll be trying to convince Tom to pop Paddington in the DVD player, it seems like a good bit of escapism and not too much to concentrate on.  I used to love Paddington as a child, I had a little set of cardboard cut outs that you could stand up and I'd always position Paddington on the shelf in my bedroom with his suitcase and jar of marmalade by his side!

Valentines Rakuten Blogger campaign

I'm actually away this weekend for the lovely Sarah's birthday - so Valentine's day itself will be spent with lots of lovely ladies, and probably a lot of cake! I decided I was giving cake and chocolate up for lent, but I've given myself a free pass for this weekend, it just wouldn't be fair on the birthday girl to go without cake - and never let it be said that I am not a kind and dedicated friend.

Will you be celebrating Valentine's Day this year? Are you a dinner date out or a cosy night in kind of person?



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I am not a failure

When I was a child, I loved to write (and read). I wrote short stories, poems, invented magazines, sent out newsletters I built on AOL when we first got the internet – you name it, I wrote it. As I got a bit older I wrote angsty teenage poetry and then I learned to play guitar and wrote angsty teenage songs. For my dissertation at University I had to write a short novel – which I then eagerly submitted to various publishers, to which I received a resounding no (or a resounding nothing, which is the same thing). I applied for jobs in publishing, thinking that that would tide me over whilst I continued to pursue a writing career. Or that that would satisfy my love of writing and reading to such an extent that I would fall asleep happy in my quirky London flat, surrounded by books and manuscripts and half-filled notebooks and beautiful fountain pens.

img credit: anxietys.tumblr.com

Hi, my name is Rosie, I’m 31 years old, I live in Dorset and I work in HR. I do not have a quirky London flat, I am not a published author, people don’t pay me to write stuff, and after a second interview at a famous publishing house in 2005, I did not get the job, and I did not try again. I read a book recently that said to imagine describing your job to your 15-year-old-self. My 15-year-old-self furrows her brow and says “What on earth is an Assistant HR Business Partner?” – a question that, frankly, I cannot answer.

My 15-year-old-self probably put the headphones to her Minidisc Player back in and went back to listening to Tool and writing her Xanga blog. Ugh, my 15-year-old-self is so much cooler than me.

I berate myself constantly for this. I scroll through Pinterest and feel like I haven’t hustled enough, or made enough mood boards, or set the right goals, or pinned enough inspirational quotes. I feel like I have let my 15-year-old self down. I feel like I’ve sold out, wasted my talent, taken the easy route – settled. Which is weird, because working in HR can be bloody hard work, and doesn’t feel like settling at all. I drive to work and over and over I tell myself that I am a failure, and that I’ve squandered my dreams and I’ll never be a writer. And then, last week – and I remember that I was driving down a stretch of country road, in the rain, and I remember what section of the A35 I was driving down, and I remember the arc of the windscreen wipers and the song that was playing on the radio because so clearly, so audibly, as if another person had spoken, a voice said. You get paid to write (sometimes).  And, you are a writer.

I don’t know where it came from. Maybe my inner critic went rogue and decided to switch teams for a moment (to be fair, it has been playing on that side for a really long time, it deserves a break). 

Maybe I lost concentration for so long that I didn’t have the energy to battle myself, and that tiny voice that’s been trying to break through the overwhelming tide of self-criticism, found a crack and shone a little stream of light in. You do get paid to write, though, it said. You sort of are a writer. This time it was a bit quieter – like when you shout something out in class, and then the teacher asks you to repeat it and you doubt yourself a little. I mulled this over for a second. Okay – so my day job is that I work in HR. Between the hours of 9 and 5, I definitely work in HR. But during some of those other hours, I write stuff. Sometimes I write things and other people tell me that they enjoyed reading them, or they pass them on to friends and tell them to read it too. Sometimes people pay me to write things. And they tell me what they’d like me to write about, and I get to put my own unique spin on it, and I share it on my blog, and people read it. And then those people who asked me to write things give me money, and though it doesn’t pay my bills, sometimes it pays for things I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford, like trips away, or things for the house. And because I work in HR I earn enough to own a fairly nice house, and in that house are all my books and half-filled notebooks and a few pretty nice fountain pens. And because I work a job that allows me to work flexibly, I’m usually home by about half past 6, and I can sit down with a cup of tea and write things on my blog that sometimes people read. Or sometimes I write things in my notebook that no-one will ever read, and hey, that’s cool too.

As I mulled over it a bit more, I realised that my inner cheerleader (I’m calling her my inner cheerleader now– I might even give her a cool cheerleader type name, like Brooke) was right. I think my 15-year-old-self would be pretty impressed that I write stuff that people read, and enjoy, and that sometimes people pay me to write stuff too. Working all day and then coming home and writing and sharing things, and having people read those things, is actually pretty awesome. I’m not a failure, I’m actually kicking a little bit of ass at my dreams.

Also, I immediately think of what Shonda Rhimes says about dreams in her Dartmouth Commencement Address: "I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing."

Here are some more things that I’ve realised:

1. If you are achieving your dreams in some tiny, scaled down, not quite what I expected but having a go anyway kind of way - you are not a failure.

2. If you are achieving your dreams but you got there in a totally different, roundabout, A to Z via K kind of way - you are not a failure.

3. If you are achieving your dreams but they aren't the dreams you thought you had, or more importantly the ones you were always told you had - you are not a failure.

4. If you aren’t earning money from your dream but you’re earning enough money to follow your dreams on the side and to have the odd weekend day to do the things that make your heart soar - you are not a failure.

Perhaps most importantly I learned to try and make a little more space for that tiny voice inside of me that's on my side.  I know that I need to quieten my inner critic in order to allow my inner cheerleader to shake her pom poms and remind me that I'm not making half as much of a mess of things as I tell myself that I am.  (Thanks Brooke, you rule).

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Cheltenham Festival Ladies Day Wishlist

Cheltenham Ladies Day is an event I've always wanted to go to.  I imagine it would be prime outfit spotting territory, from the stylish to the garish (the latter of which always gets more coverage in the Daily Mail!)  Ladies Day hosts one of the most famous races of the week, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, a steeplechase over two miles.  I can think of nothing better than donning a swish new dress, drinking some fizz and having a little flutter (saying that, I think I'd rather do it in the sunshine, and being in March, it always looks rather chilly!)

Of course when eyeing up a new event on the calendar I can't help but consider what I would wear - especially when there's a prize for the best dressed.  Though this year I will be watching the races from the comfort of my sofa, and doing my Cheltenham Festival Ladies Day betting online, I can't help but imagine but I would wear if I were trotting up there (see what I did there?)  Here's my Ladies Day wishlist...





Cheltenham Ladies Day falls on March 11th this year - so due to the wintry temperatures I'd definitely be wearing a light jacket to keep the wind and rain off.  The ultimate in smart macs is obviously the classic Burberry trench in my wishlist, but if you haven't got a cool £1300 knocking about in your bank account then this ASOS trench coat with contrasting cuffs (£75) is an absolute beauty.  I think a trench coat would be perfect over a brightly coloured shift dress like the green ASOS number in my wishlist.  I absolutely love a cute wiggle dress paired with some strappy heels; I think it would be the perfect stylish combo for Ladies Day.  Of course a cute clutch is also a must for carrying around your camera (for snapping the best hats) and your betting funds! Sadly I'd have really depleted my betting funds if I bought that beautiful Chloe shoulder bag in my wishlist - I might snap up this replica from eBay instead and save my pennies for the horses.

Last year the Best Dressed Prize went to Jennifer Wrynne, a milliner and fashion blogger from Ireland.  It's easy to see why - that dress is a beauty.

img credit: rsvpmagazine.ie

Jennifer's hat she made herself (what a talented lady), her stole is vintage, her shoes are Jimmy Choo and her clutch is Louis Vuitton.  Emerald is such a fab colour and really pops in this outfit; I'm not surprised she bagged the prize (which is worth around £20,000!)

Have you been to Cheltenham Festival Ladies Day?

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Ten Favourite Things 007

001. I really enjoyed this article "The biggest wastes of time we regret when we get older" - I'm definitely guilty of a lot of these.  I'm terrible at asking for help, I constantly dwell on past mistakes, and I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about what others think of me.  I'm definitely going to try and take note of these and put more energy into focussing on being present, and changing the things that are within my control.

002. We still haven't exchanged contracts on our new flat and things are really dragging on - but my enthusiasm for looking at new house-y things has not waned (in fact, I'm putting all my frustrations into pinning and planning!).  I've filled up lots of Pinterest boards and I've already done lots of furniture window shopping (if only we had an unlimited budget!).  I want a sort of Scandi, modern feel with white walls, lots of blacks and greys and then a few pops of colour here and there (undoubtedly lots of marble and copper too - I'm so basic).

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003. I think this article - "She divorced me because I left my dishes by the sink" is an interesting observation on how something that seems quite small can have a deeper meaning, and can cause a big rift in a relationship.

004. I've been reading a lot about the 'Blue Zones' - the areas of the world where people live the longest and the studies they've done as to why.  So interesting! This article on 'How to keep things simple for a long and healthy life' sums a lot of it up.  I've also been reading 'In Defence of Food' by Michael Pollan, which is fascinating - you can read the introduction here (I guarantee it will make you want to read the rest of the book).

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy."

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005. After getting my beautiful Kate Spade watch for Christmas I've become a bit obsessed with adding to my watch collection, and have been searching for another really timeless, classic piece to wear on special occasions. I love this Gucci watch - it's actually from their Timeless collection (which, if you think about it, is a pretty funny name for a watch!) Watches of Switzerland have so many beautiful watches that it's hard not to come away with a big lust list when I'm on their website doing some window shopping.


006. Dirtbag Macbeth made me laugh out loud A LOT, this is definitely the best version of Macbeth I've ever read (sorry Shakespeare).

007. I have a few rather exciting trips planned this year - a little all-inclusive jaunt somewhere in May with a friend, France in June, and then Cancun in August.  Roll on the sunshine! It's the only thing   that's got me through this wet, dreary January.  I can't wait for the evenings to get a bit lighter, driving to work and home from work in the dark is a bit depressing.


img credit: b-u-i-l-d.tumblr.com

008. I loved this article on 'Why you should write in 2016' - particularly the Dostoevsky quote, which is a good reminder for anyone who feels like they don't have anything to write about.

009. I'm reading - actually, I'm listening to via the Audible app - Shonda Rhimes - Year Of Yes at the moment and it's great.  As someone who frequently says no to things because they're too scary, or I think I can't do them, or I'm worried I'll make an idiot of myself, it's amazing to see how powerful it can be to step out of your comfort zone and say yes.

“If I don't poke my head out of my shell and show people who I am, all anyone will ever think I am is my shell."

010. The instagram husband has a Tumblr - "She got her new yoga bra in the mail, so of course we had to drive to the beach for her first 'workout' in it".

What have you been reading this week?
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