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Travel plans for 2017

It's probably no surprise that I have a serious case of wanderlust at the moment - in fact, it's taking all my strength not to buy a one-way ticket to some kind of tropical paradise and disappear there for the foreseeable future! As a close second I've settled for booking some trips so I have something to look forward to over the coming months.

My first holiday is with my good friend Carlie - we've booked to go to the Blue Bay Resort in Crete for a week's all inclusive holiday. I'm predicting lots of sunshine, cocktails, beach trips. lazing by the pool and girly catchups.  I've never been to Crete before but I have a feeling this holiday is going to be exactly what I need.  Carlie and I went to Rhodes about 8 years ago and we were the first in the queue for the buffet lunches and dinners, the first to the bar at cocktail hour and then in bed by about 10pm every night - the perfect holiday companion! I can't wait to go bikini shopping and pack all my shorts and summer dresses; I'm craving that warm sunshine on my skin.

Agia Pelagia, Crete |  thehotel.gr

At the end of August I'm also flying out to Palma in Mallorca with lots of other lovely ladies for a friend's hen do.  We're staying right by the marina and I'm sure there will be lots of wine in the evenings, relaxing by the pool and yummy Mediterranean food.  I've never been on a hen do abroad before and we're going for almost a week - I think it's going to be so much fun.  Something tells me I'll need another holiday to get over that holiday!

Palma, Mallorca | inlist.com

I'm also currently searching for flights to go and meet my friend Fleur in Austin, Texas in July.  Austin has been on my 'to visit' list for some time, mainly for the food, cute coffee shops and the hot weather (plus I mainly want to go and hang out with Adriene from Yoga With Adriene).  I just need to sort my flights and work out how to fit in a visit to Fleur's house in Ohio during the same trip, and I'll be all set! 

Avenue B Grocery, Austin, Texas | countryliving.com

In between all this overseas travel I really fancy a weekend in a cottage in the middle of nowhere somewhere, either with a few close friends or totally by myself.  I'm envisaging getting through my to-read pile, going on some long dog walks, taking long bubble baths in the evening and falling asleep in a huge, comfy bed in the evening (not to mention a few trips to local pubs for a ploughman's in between...) I've been trawling the Suffolk Secrets site and bookmarking lots of pretty cottages that would be perfect for a mini-break.  Plus, just look at those kitchen tiles....

The Dairy, Suffolk Secrets

Of course no fantasy cottage list would be complete without one with wood panelling and a log burner.  This looks like the perfect Autumnal escape, and with holidays in May, July and September, I think by November I'll be desperate for another getaway.  A cosy weekend away with blankets, a roaring fire, hot chocolate and a dog curled up in the corner is always what the Doctor ordered...

Blue Dog Quarters, Suffolk Secrets

What are your 2017 travel plans? Have you been to Crete, Mallorca, Austin or indeed beautiful Suffolk? Please tell me your tips!

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This is my life now

I'm driving home from a friend's house along dark, unlit country roads.  The darkness is like a thick blanket; enveloping, suffocating somehow.  It's a clear night and the stars are splayed out above like a scattered spread of pinpricks in the blackness.  I want to gaze up at them and take a moment to appreciate them and drink them in, but I keep my eyes on the road, knowing the sharp bends and unforgiving corners that lie ahead.  I realise I haven't seen the headlights of any other cars for some time, and there are no houses along this stretch of road; so there is no comfort to be found in the warm glow from a faraway window.  I catch movement in the hedge; the piercing, suspicious eyes of something wild that knows still the threat of a humming engine.  A badger or a fox maybe.  I think about my life now, and how different it looks; how nothing is the same as it was.  I could not have predicted some months ago that I would be driving along roads I previously knew so well, to live near a town I grew up in (it feels a step backwards, no matter what anyone says).  I finally reach the brighter lights that signal I'm driving back into a place more densely populated, and breathe a sigh of relief to have escaped the clutches of the forest at night - where people drive too fast, where deep potholes threaten to dislodge tyres and where animals dart out from adjoining fields.  My window is open an inch or so and I take a second to pull a portion of the cool night air into my lungs.  It smells like woodsmoke, grass and dirt. It is familiar to me, like an old blanket or a passage memorised from a favourite book.  In a few minutes I will have passed through this town and be arriving at my parents' house; a quiet road not far from the sea, where gulls circle overhead and the latch on the gate needs a slick of oil.  I have two keys on my keyring; one for a house I haven't lived in for three months and one for their house.  They had a new key cut on the day I arrived home, my belongings in Ikea sacks, a portion of my life left behind in an Edwardian cottage an hour to the west.  I placed it on my keys, solemnly, accepting this new fate.  Placing my keys in my coat pocket, where they felt heavier against my hip.

img credit unknown ;; contact for removal

I wonder if it will ever feel normal to have stepped out of one life and into another.  I feel often as if this is some kind of temporary period, as if things are on hold.  I exist in anticipation of the moment when I can start living again, start making plans (I cannot sleep at night because I do not allow myself to breathe, I am waiting). But life is happening now and it does not allow you to pause, to place your life in the 'pending tray', to be the space between the inhalation and exhalation.  I am a persona non grata; between lives, floating in the ether, waiting for direction.  I am the fox in the hedge, viewing the lights in the distance with suspicion and uncertainty.  When you cry the salt dries and becomes a part of you and you become hard and grow extra layers, like a rock.  There's no going back now.

There is so much love there, still.  Sometimes when you stop watering a plant it continues to grow, defiant and persistent.  It doesn't care that you are not nurturing it or that you have shut it in a cupboard because you thought it no longer belonged on the windowsill.  That's just the way life works - it finds a way regardless.  I let it all wash over me; love, sadness, loss, tiredness, worry.  The key slides into the lock without resistance.  This is my life now.

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Reading, listening to, watching

As I've been off work recently I've been digesting media even more enthusiastically than usual and thought I would share my picks of what I've been reading, listening to and watching.  There's so many great podcasts, TV series', blogs and films at the moment that it makes me feel overwhelmed sometimes thinking of how many things are on my list (so I'm going to make you feel overwhelmed by telling you what you should add to yours!) Happy to help...

Clique is a BBC Three TV series about two girls that start university and find themselves instantly drawn into a circle of friends who have a glamorous lifestyle with a dark secret hidden underneath.  It's so gripping and I've binged on it until I'm up to the current episode now, I can't wait for the next one.

13 Reasons Why is a new Netflix Original series set in a US High School.  A teenage girl commits suicide and then releases cassette tapes to friends explaining why she did it.  I've only watched the first two episodes so far but I'm already finding it totally addictive; there's something about it that somehow makes you feel like you're back in school and experiencing all the emotions of being a teenager again.  I can sense this is another series I'm going to race through.

img credit: career girl daily

The Killing is a series I've been meaning to watch for ages but never got around to.  I'm up to Episode 8 now and though I'm finding it a little slow I'm determined to persevere as so many people have raved about it.  Let me know if it's worth sticking with?

Wild By Nature is a book by Sarah Marquis detailing her walks across Asia and Australia.  She walked 10,000 miles over three years and it's spellbinding, life-affirming account of what it's like to e a woman alone in the wild, to experience nature and to have long periods away from civilisation.  I can't describe to you how much this book has inspired me; it's just incredible.

Status Anxiety by Alain De Botton - this isn't really for this list as it's actually sat on my bedside table waiting to be read as soon as I finish my current book, however I can't wait to pick it up! It focusses on our anxieties around achieving status and fear of failure.  I've enjoyed several of his other books so I'm really looking forward to this one.

The High Low I'm a little bit obsessed with Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton (basically I want to be cool enough to hang out with them, drink prosecco and talk about books) so I'm very glad that they are back with another podcast (after retiring their PanDolly podcast) and it's every bit as good as their last one.  Discussing current affairs, style, books and culture with their typical witty, funny, intelligent style, it's a must-listen.

S-Town is the latest podcast by the makers of Serial and This American Life, and begins with an allegation of a murder in a town in Alabama.  Again, I'm only on the third episode and even though it features predominantly conversations between the person who originally contacted the producer, and the producer himself, it's strangely addictive.

Missing Richard Simmons is another podcast I binged on recently - I finished the series in only a few days.  It involves the podcast maker (Dan Taberski) and his search for the fitness guru Richard Simmons - who Dan himself got to know through attending his classes and striking up a friendship with before he 'disappeared'.

So that's what's been on my reading pile, Netflix and podcast app.  What have you been binging on recently?

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