Book Reviews, Education, Personal, travel

2017 reflections

Initial plans

Before 2017 started I was determined that this year my main goals were:
1. to beat depression (my new year’s resolution that failed in 2015)
2. to hold down a proper job and pay my bills, and
3. to re-ignite my love for reading

What I have accomplished this year is more than I, and more than my family, could have possibly imagined. The first thing that changed was I decided to stop going out every day to ward off my depression with coffee and talking to random people in coffee shops. What this first step did for me was gave me time to relax at home, in my own space, and focus on myself. What happened was, I stopped wearing make up, took time to write and, wait for it, READ. I told myself to read for 10 minutes every day, that’s all, but within days I had gone out and bought new books. I was reading two a day, sometimes three! It was like magic that my passion for reading flooded back.

Once I’d realized it was back, I looked for a reading challenge and decided to go with PopSugar’s version! I’ve enjoyed it immensely and recommend any book-lover to do it too! Total books read in 2017: 44!

This is honestly one of the best parts of 2017. I had forgotten how much reading influenced me. How moving words can be and what an effect they can have on us.

I’ll briefly share a few of my favourites with you.

A man named Ove, by Fredrik Backman – This had me laughing, crying and feeling so many mixed emotions as I saw parts of my grumpy self in Ove, but also parts of my Grandpa in that the love between husband and wife is unbreakable even after death.

Mad Girl, by Bryony Gordon – The first book I read this year that I couldn’t put down and without a doubt reminded me of how much I’ve missed reading. Despite the struggles of Bryony, she lets us into her world through humour and showing us that it is okay, ‘not to be okay’. I can’t thank her enough for sharing her story.

Baby Doll and The Walls by Hollie Overton – wow! Neither of these books were read lightly. Absolutely gripping at the pages as I read both of these, each in one sitting. The Walls actually gave me nightmares, it was that good! Twisted, warped stories that had my heart racing start to finish! Must, must read!

All the bright places by Jennifer Niven – oh my poor heart. What a moving story! It took me a few days to read this, as I started back in January when I wasn’t fully in the swing of reading but by the end of it I had quotes on little post-it notes around my room, I wanted tattoos, I couldn’t stop following Niven’s fans on instagram and twitter. I was sucked into the world of Violet and Finch.

My weight loss

This was a pivotal part of my year because growing up I was always extremely skinny, and sporty, and even at Uni I wasn’t ever more than a size 8, but once the depression crept in, then the medication, I ate and ate and ate… I never stopped. Dr Pepper, doughnuts, pizza hut, crisps, chips, chocolates, beer, wine… whatever I wanted, I ate. Immediately. I was eating anywhere from 5 to 10 times a day and I didn’t care. It wasn’t long before I was pushing a size 16 and 70kilos. My family were shocked, my friends of course didn’t say anything, and I felt repulsive. This year I put an end to it. How? Believe me, people have asked.

  • I started off by cutting out eating after 7pm. This made a huge difference to my bloating and discomfort.
  • The next stage, I stopped eating dairy products. No milk, chocolate, cheese, none of it! This made a massive difference and the weight started dropping quite quickly.
  • Then it was time for some hard work, I had to stop eating junk food. I cut out cookies and crisps, I went nearly 6 months without a single pizza (this was painful!). It meant daily smoothies, veggie sticks for snacks instead of crisps, soups when it was cold rather than 2 plates of pasta or pizza.
  • Then the real work, exercise! This was tough. My knees are weak and running is always painful for me… so I had to buy some weights and do things at home. Mostly squats, sit ups, crunches, jumping jacks, lizard crunches (seriously guys, do these!!) Plus the occasional swim or trip to the gym…

I’m still working on my weight, and I hate my stomach, but to lose 16 kilos in 12 months is a massive achievement for me and I feel surprisingly proud of myself!

First real job

After a few part-time job stints in 2016, I wasn’t satisfied with what I’d been doing. I’d enjoyed my job at the Little Red Roaster immensely, but because of my mental health I had to resign. My boss there was amazing and most of the customers were lovely, and in the jobs that followed I didn’t find either of those bonus points.

Someone recommended I apply for Coffee #1 in Winton and I had a great trial shift… two days later they called and asked if I wanted to train up as an Assistant Manager. Jeez… Where do I begin? A week after signing the contract they said I couldn’t stay in Winton and that I’d have to go to Eastleigh. Every day. I agreed, since I had no other option but that journey was awful. Getting the bus to Southampton, then a train to Eastleigh took about an hour in the morning, but coming home was awful. I had to get a train back to Southampton, which depending on what time I closed up that night could have me waiting in Eastleigh for an hour. The coach times changed and sometimes I was waiting in Southampton for an hour, or longer. On average, coming home took between 2 and 4 hours, for a 30 minute car journey. I didn’t get paid for my travel time, as promised. I didn’t get compensation half of the time either. I enjoyed the job I was doing but most of the time, I was on auto pilot. The hours were awful, the travelling was even worse. I’ll skip the other finer, irritating details of what I had to put up with, but eventually I handed in my notice. It was absolutely the right decision for me and I’m so glad I walked away from that place.

No money

With my first solo trip booked, Switzerland!!, and no job… I was in panic mode. Do I cancel my holiday? Do I retract my notice? No no no! I went to Zuerich for three days and had the best holiday ever! I saw old friends, went to the FIFA museum, walked along the river and I barely bought a thing except for food. Have any of you been to Zuerich? What did you think of it??

The turning point

One of the biggest points of 2017 was my Taiwan holiday… Leigh and I had argued, big time, before I flew out and I was back at a really low point. I didn’t know what to do next with my personal life, my career, my education. Everything felt like a complete mess. However, I took myself off to a little coffee shop and explored my options.

I started working on my mindfulness, writing a journal again and learning how to be more reflective on situations.

NOW was the time to step out of my comfort zone. I signed up for a CELTA course. After years and years of uhmmmmmm-ing and aaaaaaaaah-ing about whether to go forward with teacher training, this was it! I started the day after I arrived home in Bournemouth.

I’ve said it time and time again lately but it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. That CELTA course pushed me to study again, to make some wonderful new friends and, believe it or not, almost cure my stage fright! I honestly had no idea if I was going to pass the course or not, but I applied for a summer teaching job at the sister school, BEET. I had a few interviews and finally, as long as I passed, I had a 4-week contract!

Now I won’t go into too much detail about the job, because I’ve blogged about it a fair bit already but this job has changed my life. I have found a passion. I love this job with my heart and soul, and the people that I’ve met through it have inspired me, supported me, and some have also left me feeling totally drained (but that’s a rare few!)

I’ll be forever grateful to those two people who gave me this opportunity, and to everyone who has supported me along the way. If I could work there forever, I would.


If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it…

Okay. We did. But I’m not going to blog about that now…
August 30th 2017 – Leigh and I got engaged.


As the year draws to a close, I’m still glowing from my wonderful holiday in Germany with our friends, a lovely Christmas with my family and Leigh and I are in the process of signing contracts for teaching jobs in China.

We went up to London yesterday for our medical exams, and have a week to wait for the results. In the mean time, we are going to enjoy THREE WHOLE DAYS OFF together! Then it’s crunch time. Packing up my things, throwing away what I don’t need, etc etc.

I cannot believe that I’m about to move to the other side of the world and finally move out of my parents house. Hopefully for the last time! Does this mean I’m officially an adult now? Let’s hope so.

I hope everyone has a lovely New Year’s Eve and that 2018 is absolutely wonderful for you. Please let me know what you’re looking forward to, if you’re doing any book challenges or if you’re also going to be teaching abroad!


Lots of love



Personal, travel

Rüdesheim, der zweite und dritte Tag.

After a terrible sleep, we went down for breakfast to find that our friends had bought us presents… some super cute fluffy, penguin socks on our table, which are perfect for this cold weather! I absolutely love breakfast in Germany. It’s one of the best things on earth.

We walked around the Christmas market, which during the daytime was much quieter and definitely more enjoyable!

Then we spent an hour in this fantastic museum called RheinWelt, which mainly consists of German Riesling wines, from vineyards along the river Rhein. You buy tokens for €20, which allows you to try wines, dispensed from a special storage tank. Such a fantastic idea! They also had beautiful artwork and a lovely deli, where you could not only eat, but also buy gifts to take home. I was 110% in my element! Trying wines, keeping tasting notes…

We spent the afternoon and evening in different towns at Christmas markets, wine houses and then we had dinner at this beautiful old restaurant / winery with our friends, and their friends.

Today, we woke up at 2, 3, 5 and 7am. Each time to check 1) if the snow was falling and 2) how much. At 7am our Dad banged on the door whispering “snow, snow!” So we jumped up and headed out within about 5 minutes. We drove up into the hills as the snow stormed down around us. There was SO MUCH of it.

It was absolutely beautiful! We stopped to buy fresh bread and coffee, came back to get ready for the day before jumping on the train to Wiesbaden, to go shopping! We had a few hours to look around the shops, before having a buffet lunch at Karstadt, one of my sister’s favourite childhood things to do!

my new friend, the camel

I had a power nap this afternoon (it was AMAZING!) and then we went on the cable car / Seilbahn as a family. The views over the town were just beautiful. Absolutely stunning!

We had to warm up with a slightly odd-tasting coffee, before wandering through the Christmas lanes again! Running back to the hotel to put on another pair of socks, touch up my make up and dash back out for dinner!

We went to a restaurant we’ve been going to for at least 25 years, with friends who we’ve known our whole lives. Our parents have been friends for 32 years, the eldest ‘children’ are 27, the second two are 25 and the youngest is 20. The last time we were all together was over 6 years ago! But we were chatting for 3 hours, as if we only saw each other last week. The friendship between us is like gold dust! So rare and wonderful. I only wish we saw each other more often…

P.s check out my new shoes a few photos up… they are amazing! From the German company Rieker.


Deutschland: hab dich lieb

So my trip to Germany started at 4:30 this morning, which is never a pretty time to wake up.

We stayed at the Hampton Hilton hotel at Stansted airport and it was lovely, brand new and full of festive spirit! I’d definitely recommend staying there if you’re ever flying out early. Comfy bed / rooms and breakfast is from 4-11am! Check out what I had… #pig

It was absolutely freezing outside but once we were inside the airport we were checked in pretty quickly ! We flew RyanAir, and surprise surprise we had absolutely no issues! Lovely lady at bag drop and service was good throughout the journey.

To my surprise there is a Harris + Hoole Coffee shop in Stansted and that definitely made my morning. One of the best cups of coffee I’ve had in a looooong time! Plus, they were selling Clever Drippers at £12 – an absolute steal! (My sister bought it for me as a Christmas present – wooo!)

There were sooooo many shops in Stansted and we didn’t have any time at all to look, which is terribly disappointing considering I could have bought just about one of everything – from perfumes to gift sets to the massive Baileys bottles… accessorize, boots, superdry and so many more shops!

Despite the hour delay from London, we made up the time due to strong winds – yay! Dad was waiting with warm pretzels 🥨 and Apfel schörle – two of my favourite things in the world! Talk about pure happiness!

And the ground was covered in snow for miles and miles – it was such a stunning sight to see on our drive to Rüdesheim… our friends own the fantastic, friendly, homely Rüdesheimer Hof 💕

We had a lovely lunch with our friends at a table we’ve sat at every year for as long as I’ve been alive. They prepared breads, salads, tagliatelle with lemon butter, wine, Sekt and little cookies for afterwards. It filled me with such warmth that it wasn’t long before i was enjoying a nap, under the world’s comfiest duvet!

Post-nap, mum and I went shopping in the little shop in the hotel lobby – it’s full of the most gorgeous gifts from jewellery to cushions to scarves and more. I treated myself to a beautiful golden heart necklace, and mum finished off her Christmas shopping (I think.)

Once everyone had napped, powered up and layered up, we finally set off to explore the beautiful Weihnachtsmarkt– Christmas Market! Oh my, it was just wonderful. Music from every corner, lights of all shapes and sizes, Christmas trees outside of every shop, Glühwein, cookies, chips, crepes, wine, souvenirs, postcards, Christmas decorations… it was so festively fantastic! We wandered round and round for nearly 3 hours until the freezing cold finally got the better of us… and we retired to our rooms.

Dad has just bought us a tray of teapots, cups and peppermint tea for us to enjoy before bed, with some traditional Lebkuchen ❤️ and on that note, I think I’m ready for bed.

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

I love Germany xo

Education, Personal

The last teaching day of 2017

Well, I know I haven’t been updating my blog as I should have but I feel as if today is definitely deserving of a post.

Today has been my last day of teaching for 2017 and I’m feeling fairly emotional about it, as I knew I would be.

Not only does Christmas bring lots of goodbyes and holiday wishes, but today felt even more emotional saying goodbye to student that I’ve been teaching for 2, 3, even 6 months! People that have taught me about different countries, religions, traditions and most importantly, friendship.

Watching these students come together from totally different worlds, some with almost no English and others with a seriously impressive standard of English, has been wonderful.

Working at BEET has inspired me more than I thought could be possible. I’ve finally found my career path, I’ve found something that I want to do forever. A job that makes me feel, mostly, positive, happy and yet at the same time drives me crazy and causes me to lose hours of sleep over planning the best lessons, trying to help students focus on their weaker areas and excel wherever possible. I’ve never lost so much sleep before.

My colleagues are extremely inspiring. They are intelligent, intellectual, hilarious, kind, thoughtful and have made me feel completely welcome at the school.

I will miss them in many ways and I can only hope my new colleagues will be half as amazing as them.

6 months ago I would never have thought I was capable of teaching, but thanks to the people around me and the students I’ve taught, I have a new found confidence in myself, and a new passion.