So… I Had To Break Into My Own House.

Dear Blog,

I enjoy living on my own, being able to do whatever I want without having to answer to anyone. It is pretty amazing. Except when you lock yourself out of your house…

Last week, I was walking home following a tiring 10 hour shift at the hospital. As I reached my street, I put my hand into my pocket for my keys… Only to find they weren’t there. Crap. My front door has a self locking system so I am usually pretty vigilant before I leave the house but for some reason, I wasn’t that morning.
I stood outside my house for a few minutes as the reality of the situation sunk in. As you might remember, I left my phone in Spain a few months ago and while I did eventually replace it, I hadn’t saved all my contacts. One of which was my landlord; the only person with a spare key.
So I’m pretty much regretting every decision I’ve made up to this point. My next idea was to get into my back garden. As I live in a terrace house, all the back gardens in my street are linked, meaning, should you wish, you can walk straight through to your selected house.

I first knock on the door of my right-sided neighbour, the one I have spoken to in the past. No luck. I knocked several more times before concluding that her and her partner were out. So I tried my neightbour on the left, who I knew was much more elderly. Thankfully she opened the door. I explained my situation and she allowed me to cut through her house to get to my garden. Brilliant!
Now I do have a back door that I keep locked at all times, for obvious reasons but I always keep the key in the lock. So the solution is there, right in front of me, just mere centimeters through a door. The problem is how I retrieve said key. Luckily, I have a cat who has a door of her own. Unluckily, it is a chip activated cat flap and she needs to be around for it to open.

So I gently tap on my window, knowing Clove is in the house as per usual. I wait. Nothing happens. So I try again, a little firmer this time. I can hear her bell but she refuses to come to the door. So I had to do the one thing I really didn’t want to do: I had to break her cat flap. I say break, it was more of a ‘dismantle’. I wasn’t allowed to screw it to the door when I moved in but it had been quite a snug fit that it didn’t really need screwing in. I was very thankful of this now.
In what felt like a heartbreaking scene from a Disney movie where the parent destroys something the hero adores, I began trying to dismantle the cat flap, bending it and twisting it to dislodge it from the door. It didn’t take long. By this time, Clove had ventured to see what all the commotion was about, though still not realising it was me trying to break into our house.

So I’m a step closer to the key. I was feeling pretty smug at this point. Strong independent woman here. I got down on the cold, wet ground and reached with all my might, through the gaping hole in the door towards the key… But it was no use. My arms were just millimeters too shorts to get a grip of it. Curse my small stature! But it’s OK,  I’m not out of hope yet. I rummage through my bag in aid of an arm extension. I first tried my water bottle, hoping I could rotate the key in the lock. Sadly that was pointless, the bottle was far too bulky and I couldn’t really feel if it was touching the key or not. Next I tried a pen. That worked better but still didn’t quite have the effect I was after. I was getting pretty frustrated by this point. I’d take off my coat and jumper just to see if that would give me the extra reach that I needed. Nope.

Perhaps its time to get some help. I didn’t really want to bother my elderly neighbour again, it was getting on for 8pm and the temperature was dropping. As I stood up, I noticed that the kitchen light was on in the to my right; The neighbour I thought was out.
I originally wanted to ask for her help but when she opened the door in her pj’s, it suddenly didn’t seem appropriate. In a brief moment of panic thinking, I asked if she had any tongs. This surprized us both but she was nice enough to let me borrow some.
With tongs now obtained, I headed back to my door, resumed the position and tried to grasp the key. Clove had now worked out it was me trying to break in but instead of being any bit of help, she thought it would be better to provide moral support by rubbing against my hand. Thanks, Clove…
My first few attempts at grabbing the key were useless, the rubber would not grip the metal key. I then reverted back to my previous technique of trying to turn the key in the lock. For a moment there was nothing but silence. Then suddenly…

*Click*

I was in!

I have never ran into my house so quickly in my whole life. I did it, I manged to get into my own house, all on my own… because I manged to lock myself out, all on my own.
You’ll be happy to know that the cat flap did live to fight another day and I have since given my spare keys to a friend. What a night…

Can You Feel That?

 

Can you feel that?
The stabbing feeling in your chest?
The piecing pain as your heart beats against your ribs,
Like a desperate prisoner banging on the bar of his cell?
Or the lump as hard as a rock lodged in your throat?
Restricting airflow,
The choking sensation as is the stings getting tighter?
The inability to expel any sound?
Can you feel the knot that twists your stomach?
The contortion?
How about the throbbing headache?
The skull shattering combustion of your brain,
So consuming.
Can you feel it?
The cold sweat dripping down your back,
Glueing your clothes to your skin?
Suffocating your body with each movement?
How about the turbulent tremor?
The aggressive shaking,
The ache of bruising muscles?
Did you feel that?

Can you feel the agony you put me through?
It’s about time you did.

 

 

 


https://creativewritingink.co.uk/resources/writing-prompts/

My 2018 Review.

Dear Blog,

Well, here we are, New Years Eve and another year has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I find that the older I get, the faster time seems to pass. It’s incredibly unsettling yet empowering and with each passing month, the more I try to cram in, rejecting mundane life while I can. 
My life has taken a huge (and pretty unexpected) turn during 2018 and to be honest, I feel absolutely amazing because of it. Its pretty rare for me to feel like this at the end of the year as I’m typically full of regret, having not achieved anything I had set out to do. I know a lot of readers will be able to related to that. Anyway, here is a breakdown of my 2018:

 

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  • In January, I visited Prague and marked my 25th birthday in another country. I visited an ‘Ice Bar’ where everything from the walls to the glasses were made of ice. You were only allowed 20 minutes in the bar due to how cold it was. 

  • I also started this blog in January!

  • Nothing spectacular happened in the lead up to May which is when I became single yet again. Looking forward to entering 2019 as a free woman. 

  • The end of May saw me begin the Arctic One challenge with my goals being: Cycle 621 miles, Swim 31 miles and collectively exercise for 100 hours, all before the first of September. unfortunately I didn’t succeed. My summer ended up being more jam-packed than i realised.

  • June was a month I’d rather forget as drama and mental health consumed my family life. However I did go to my very first photo shoot with my sister and it was a much needed confidence boost.

  • July has got to be my favourite month of 2018. Not only did I win 2 return flights to Spain via the NHS but I also won a cat hamper through my local pet shop. Clove was very happy.

  • On 1st July, I cycled 75 miles with Cycle Swam around Norfolk in the scorching heat.
     
  • Mid July, I went to my first ever festival and had an absolutely amazing time volunteering. It was, hands down one of the best things I have ever experienced and I am so proud of myself for doing it on my own. Thinking back and I’m still so pumped from the whole thing. 
  • Three days after returning from Latitude, I moved into my own little house! 

  • As August came around, my best friend from uni cames to visit. Using some gift cards I had obtained at christmas (and luckily not wasted on the Ex), we visited the Harry Potter studios in Watford. That was an amazing day out and took me back to being a kid. Definitely worth the visit if your interested in the making of Harry Potter or just to see the costumes and props.

  • Later on I did another cycling sportive (Tour De Broads) with one of my friends, this time only 50 miles but we completed it in good time and got some awesome medals!

  • 8 weeks later and I boarded the plane with my family to Spain. Having originally gifted the tickets to my Mum and her partner, it was decided to turn this opportunity into a family getaway with 6 of us in tow. A beautiful place that I would definitely visit again. 

 

The last few months have slowed down and been rather uneventful. I have worked almost ever day of the christmas season so nothing to report there. As 2018 draws to a close, it is a year I don’t wish to repeat but at the same time, I have achieved so much and developed my thought process, my personality and improved my general outlook on life. I have grown up this year and with 2019 already looking promising, I can’t wait to see what I’ll be writing this time next year. 


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I Tried To Save A Life That Didn’t Need Saving.

Dear Blog,

Back in October, I went on a family holiday to Spain courtesy of some tickets I won through the NHS. You can read about my adventure here.

I have never really spoken about my career since I started this blog. I am an Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) meaning I work mainly in operating theatres, either helping to put people to sleep or assisting the surgeon during surgery. It’s an amazing job yet one with little publicity. I’ve been qualified for 2 years following a 3 year degree.

So, on the fourth night of our spanish trip, my family and I were waiting for the evening entertainment to start, as we had every night previous. The standard routine was to finish our evening meal, head outside to bag a decent table and wait for the children’s disco the finish with the entertainment happening after.
The children’s disco had been the same every night. Two adult entertainers dancing with 20+ kids to the same routine every night. I had briefly watched during the previous evening but being way out of my age range, it wasn’t something I was super excited by.

I had been in the middle of a conversation with my mum when I heard one of the entertainers repeat his colleagues name over and over. I looked up to see all the children gathering around the female entertainer, who was laying on the floor, while the male one looked confused and unsure what to do. I stopped. In my head I was thinking what steps I needed to take. Being a qualified health care professional, its our duty to help the public if they need us. I have plenty of friends who have been in that situation, whether it be assisting with a car accident or someone whose injured themselves in the street. I, however, have managed to avoid any off site incidences.
I continues to watch the crowd for a few more seconds before my body went into overdrive and I found myself weaving in between tables to get to the front.

“Ask the children for some space. Check she is conscious. Ask for a glass of water if she is, Ask for an ambulance if she isn’t.”

I made it to the front and leaned in over the children to see the woman laying on the floor… Then she smiled. It had been part of the act.
As soon as I realised what was going on, I walked very quickly back to my seat, greeted by the laugher of my family as my cheeks burst with embarrassment. unfortunately for me, another table a few in front of us had witness the whole thing and were also laughing. I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me whole.

At least I tried and if nothing else, it provided a story to tell, entertained the adults and gave me some valuable experience for the future. Perhaps I won’t be so keen to help next time I see a performer on the floor.

My First Panic Attack.

Dear Blog,

For most of my teenage life, I suffered from panic attacks. One was so bad that I ended up in A&E. While over the years, I have learnt how to manage and hide them, I always remember my very first, full-blown anxiety attack.

I was eleven, in my first year of high school and was overall in an OK place in my young life. While I had experience extreme moments of hysteria in the past, as my Emetophobia had been triggered the year before, they were nothing compared to what I was about to experience.

I was sat in my French class, the first class after lunch and my seat was towards the back of the room, next to my best friend. I remember it so clearly. Randomly, my best friend had a stick of string cheese in her blazer pocket and despite it being out of its packet and dry around the edges, we shared it. I don’t know why this sticks at such a prominent part of the story, perhaps I blamed the cheese when I was younger,
The class began and about 20 minutes in, I wasn’t feeling so well. I couldn’t explain it. My heart was racing and I getting increasingly anxious and fidgety, I could hear every tick of the second hand on our room clock.

As time went on, I tried to concentrate on the lesson but with little luck. The anxiety kept building and the walls felt like they were closing in. I was hot, sweaty and scared. I couldn’t take it no more. Not knowing what was happening, I got up out of my chair, walked to the front of the class to approach the teacher but before I could say anything, I burst into tears and became hyperventilating. In the confusion, several of my friends had gathered around me just as the school bell rang. Caught in the crowd of pupils heading to their next class, I ended up in the corridor, surrounded by people. I couldn’t breath and the more people who gathered around, the more overwhelmed I became. The corridor got more and more crowded and my outburst had drawn the attention of strangers I’d never met, wondering what had happened to create such a chaotic scene. My teacher was trying to talk to me but I couldn’t hear what she was saying, I was just so frightened.
I had alarmed my fellow students so much that I distinctly remember one of the girls who bullied me, trying to pull me into a hug to calm me down.

The next few moments are really blurry but amongst the confusion, I ended up in the school nurses office with the class teaching assistant. I had calmed down by this point though shock and shaking had taken over my body. I had no idea what had just happened. I’d never experienced anything like that without bring triggered by an event of some kind. Unfortunately, this wasn’t going to be my last panic attack and they plagued most of my teenage years and early 20’s. Particularly when I was ill.
Nowadays I am much better at controlling and hiding them. When I get particularly stressed, I can feel my body getting into the same state it had when I was in that french class. There have been times in the middle of this year where life seemed to overwhelm me but I had to be brave and breath in order to help those around me.

Panic attacks are scary. The whole sense of losing control, sometimes for no reason at all. They can take over your life, prevent you from going into certain situations, make you avoid any potential triggers. But you need to show them you are the boss. This is your body. You are in control.

The Worst Date I’ve Ever Had.

Dear Blog,

Back in 2015, newly single and hoping to find the man I will eventually marry (still working on that), I was browsing dating websites like they were facebook, painstakingly reading countless profiles for anyone who vaguely suited my set of preferences. I was young and naive but thought I was ready for the bigger things in life. Silly 22 year old me.

Anyway, one day, a few weeks before Christmas, a dude messaged me. I browsed his profile, analysed all his photos and decided to give him a chance. The first 2 dates were OK but there wasn’t much chemistry between us. That became all the more clear on date number 3.

On the morning of our third date, I was getting ready for what I thought was going to be a nice walk around a local park with this guy and his dog. It sounded like a good bonding opportunity and something I desperately needed as I was becoming very aware of the lack of ‘spark’ between us.
During the drive to pick me up, this guy had had a sudden change of plan. He decided that we should go to his house and watch a movie instead. I was made aware of the plan change once he had already picked me up…
I wasn’t exactly thrilled nor am I the type of person to ‘Netflix and chill’ that quickly into knowing someone. My day got progressively worse from there.

The guy hadn’t told me that he was still living at home with his parents so once he opened his front door, both his mum and dad were there. His mum hugged me, offered me food, I politely declined before being abandoned in the hallway while everyone else went into the kitchen. It was the longest minute of my life and there was a distinct lack of photos or art work on the walls to provide me with at least a little entertainment.
Once the dude returned, we headed upstairs to his bedroom…

…Wow…

…I walked into a bedroom that could have equally belonged to a teenage boy, not someone a year older than me. Clothes had been thrown across the floor, a stack of plates were towering over his computer and the room just stank of stale boy. It was very obvious that this guy hadn’t thought about inviting me around until the moment he drove away from this pigsty. Being a little taken back, I sat on his bed while he flicked through the movies, pre-downloaded on his PS3.

That’s when I noticed it.

Right in the middle of his grey duvet cover was a huge, the size of a grapefruit huge, ketchup stain. Now call me high maintenance but if you invite a girl over to your house, you might want to change your bed sheets first!
He had picked The Hunger Games to watch. Great, two and a half hours of avoiding this stain. As the movie played on, the guy put his arm around me and invited me in for a cuddle. I was so rigid, not really wanting to be there and trying to avoid this stain which I had managed to curl my body around.
We stayed like that for a little bit until his mum strolled in and asked him if he wanted anything to eat, I quickly jumped up, which probably made me look more suspisious. He asked for some sausage rolls. No one asked me if I wanted anything, seemingly having learned from our previous encounter.

A short while later, his mum reappeared with a plate of about 6 sausage rolls and a bottle of ketchup. It became evident that this was a regular meal of his and the ‘sauce’ of the ketchup stain (I couldn’t resist making that joke).
So we were about halfway through the movie, he was nomming away on a pile of sausage rolls while I remained rigid, wondering if this was now my life when his older brother wondered into the room (does anybody knock anymore?!) carrying his baby son. He introduced himself and gave me a brief interrogation and thrust the baby into my dates arms.

So to recap, there is now me, my date, a baby and a ketchup stain. It is getting  very crowded on this single bed. Now I think babies are great and the day I have my own excites me but I haven’t had much contact or experience with them so I just sort of ignored this poor kid. His uncle was doing most of the entertaining anyway.

Nothing else happened during the movie, but I was so overwhelmed by my experienced that I asked to go home and promptly (and gently) let him know that I didn’t think things were working out. He didn’t take it very well, called me manipulative but we had only met 3 times. I don’t even know if he’d had a girlfriend before, that’s what little I knew about him… But he clearly left a lasting impression. I will never look at ketchup the same again.

I Won Tickets To Spain!

Dear Blog,

Last week I was soaking up some last-minute 2018 sunshine in the gorgeous Costa De Sol. Back in July, I won 2 free plane tickets to Malaga through work to celebrate the NHS turning 70 years old. Not a bad prize at all! When I entered that competition, I had always planned to give the tickets to my mum and her partner. 2018 has been a particularly difficult year for my family so it seemed the perfect way to escape.
A trip for 2 people turned into a family trip for the 6 of us: Mum, me and my sister plus my mums partner and his 2 kids.

This was my first every trip to Espania and although I’ve seen pictures, nothing quite prepared me for the outstanding beauty of black sanded beaches, Palm trees lining the roads and random cacti scattered around the pavement. From the moment I left the airport, I was taken back.
We were staying in a family friendly, all-inclusive resort hosting an impressive waterslide collection, countless pools, evening entertainment and just a general great vibe. With spacious rooms, 2 restaurants and backing right onto the beach, this place was heaven.

Most of our days were spent pool side, nursing a range of free drinks from hot chocolates to Coke to San Miguel. This was a life style I had never experience and it was quite a shock to arrive back in England and not having drinks on tap.
When we weren’t sunning ourselves, we were out exploring the neighbourhood. Littered with white-walled houses and beautiful mountains that coated the horizon, this was nothing like home and I experience a huge sense of longing on what I may be missing around the world. I have only been going abroad since 2015 so seeing all these picturesque views in real life still blows my mind.

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On our 4th day, we decided to go on a day trip to Gibraltar, a tiny controversial country on the south spanish coast that remains part of the UK. It is effectively a rock which could be seen from our hotel room back in Spain. It was ever so surreal to cross the border and suddenly see street names in English, our trademark red busses, shops typical of a british high street and even a strange version of our currency. Home away from home.
Our goal for the day was to see dolphins in the Gibraltar bays. Boarding a little catamaran boat (so proud of myself for not panicking) and joining 15 or so other tourist, we headed out of the harbour and into the bays. The sight of the other boats like the huge tankers and cruise ships did make me feel quite nervous. You don’t realise how big they are until you are in a dinky boat right underneath them. At first we could only see a few dolphins in the distance, too far to really distinguish what kind they were. However, the further out we got, the more pods we spotted. Dorsal fins were popping our of the water from every angle, it was hard to know where to look, in fear of missing one close by. The closer we got, the closer to the boat they got, until they were swimming and jumping right beside us. I have honesty never seen wildlife look so content, so natural and so majestic. When it was time to go back to shore, the Common Dolphins stereotypically swam in our jet streams, giving us a fantastic view of them both under and out of the water. It was a moment without cameras or phones, just a treat for us to treasure.

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During the evenings of our holiday, we were audience to several different performances. Flamenco dancing was mesmerizing, so many foot movements! There was a Motown group from Cape Town who were very good and got the audience singing along. One night there was a magic act but unfortunately I spend too much of my childhood dedicated to watching Breaking the Magician’s Code: Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed, so had learned a lot of the basic tricks however it was still an enjoyable night.

spain resort

All in all, Spain was fantastic and blew my expectations out of the water. A beautiful culture full of bright colours, amazing food and soft language. It was a much-needed break at just the right time of the year with temperatures settling at a comfortable 24/23 degrees celsius. Thank you for having us and if you find my mobile phone, please sent it back, it had my original thumb nail on it.

Another country to scratch off my map, now to prepare for January!

 


Anyone who is curious as to where we spent our week, the hotel is Globales Playa Estepona. I am not being paid to promote them, credit where credit is due and we had a fantastic time. 

Bulimia: After The Recovery.

Dear Blog,

In 2014, I was sat in a doctor’s office, being officially diagnosed with an illness I knew I had: Bulimia. Despite my mental state, I distinctly remember asking him if  I would ever get rid of the illness, to which he simply replied: “Most people learn to control it but it will likely be there for the rest of your life”. Four years later and unfortunately those words ring true.

For me to develop Bulimia in the first place was quite a shock to anyone who knew me growing up. From the age of 10, I suffered from Emetophobia, the phobia of vomiting, triggered by my fathers drunken antics.
When I say phobia, I don’t mean general disgust and a slight adrenaline rush, I mean full-blown panic attacks, hysteria, sweats, anxiety… It is a huge contributor as to why I don’t drink alcohol or go out clubbing…
But when uni starter the september before, I found myself consumed by the devil itself.

Four years on and I am a happy, healthy ex-bulimic with every determination to stay this way for the rest of my life. However, I still have bad days. Day’s when I look in the mirror, horrified by what I see. Days where the voice in my head begs me to skip a meal or work longer shifts so I burn more calories.  I succeed in banishing that voice back to the dark pit from which it came but it always lingers. The best way to tackle it is to avoid any triggers or situations that involve dietary talk. Unfortunately that’s isn’t very easy when you work in a hospital full of sick and vomiting patients as well as a department with a huge population of ‘fad dieters’. Fad diets spread around my department as fast as the Pneumonic plague and when your trapped in the middle of a four-way dieting conversation, its suffocating.

Managing myself, my thoughts, has become the norm for me. As anyone who has experienced a mental health illness will tell you, you can’t run away from your own thoughts so with the support of those around you, you have to learn to shout louder than any other voice. I know for now how to control it. My worries come for the future, when I eventually find someone and have a baby. I don’t know how I’ll cope seeing my body change. I know I’ll be growing another human being and not getting fat but the issue with body dysmorphia is that you don’t see yourself as you are.
If I decide to eat a whole pizza in one sitting, the next day I will believe that I have gained permanent weight but I know that any bloating is temporary and in a day or two I’ll go back to feeling like my normal self.

This illness has made me a very jumpy person. What once was a fear of vomiting has developed into an immense fear of ever becoming bulimic again. It is my biggest fear, and out of all the crap I have been though in my life, having my thoughts controlled and dominated was by far the worst. I get panicky whenever someone close to me loses weight. Whenever someone simply mentions the word ‘Diet’, but especially when someone comments on the way I look. I absolutely hate it.

I am lucky that I have gained a huge support network. My family and friends are all there when I need them and know what to look out for should I ever fall back into my old habits. I have always been open with people about my past because I know all too well how easy it is to hide and get consumed.

 


I wrote this in honor of National Mental Health Day. It is ok to not be ok and no one should feel like they have to go through it alone. If you are struggling, please tell those closest to you. We will get through this together. 

Wake Up!

The doctors, they said it,
An illness? You claimed it.
Like a badge of honor, you wear these labels,
Consumed by the reactions, you act unstable.
You’d think no-one else had ever experienced,
The hardships you claim, You’re delirious.
Everyday is different:
You’re angry,
You’re happy,
You’re depressed and snappy,
One minute you’re suicidal,
The next you’re shagging every man,
You’re in such denial.
Am I coming?
Or going?
Do you want me?
I’m tiptoeing.
Wake up,
Your reality is a lie.
Come off social media,
Detoxify.
It’s not hard to just be genuine.
Life’s not great,
But you’re on the road to ruin,
Everything you’ve built the past 4 years.
You know where I am,
I can lend an ear.
But only if you take a sec to remember,
How lost you were that special November…

Clove and The Elastic Bands.

Dear Blog,

It has been 5 weeks since Clove and I moved into our little house. I wasn’t sure how she would react; being only 18 months old, uprooting everything is something she’s never experienced. Besides being adopted by me that is.

Initially, she didn’t react how I’d expected. My confident little feline either hid aware or was attached to my leg like glue, never leaving my side. It took a good few days for her to get used to all this space. After all, she was used to only having 2 rooms to run around in, now she has a mini emperor to sprint around in. She has discovered how slippery wood flooring can be, often doing a cartoonish run on the spot before finding traction and darting off. It’s a rather funny sight, especially when she’s chasing a fly.

One of my main reasons for moving was so Clove could finally have regular access to the outdoors instead of having to rely on me taking her out in her little pink harness. It was good while she was a kitten but now she’s grown far too inquisitive and longs to go out for longer periods of time. Luckily, our house has a cat flap. It didn’t take her long to work out how to use it.

So a few days ago, in the middle of the night, I woke up to the sound of Clove crying hysterically. She sprinted upstairs and jumped on my bed. Worried that she might have injured herself, I grabbed my phone and shone the light on her. She was crouched funny, like she had caught something. Great. The hunting has begun… So I nudged her out of the way to see what present she had bestowed upon me only to discover a much worn, pretty disgusting, elastic band. By this point, Clove was purring her little heart out, overly impressed with her new-found hunting abilities.
Like anyone in the early hours of the morning, I put it out of her reach, fell back asleep and disposed of it in the morning.

A couple of days passed and I’d forgotten all about it. Then, on Friday afternoon, I had just set up our new sofa when I heard the cat flap go. Seconds later I hear continuous meows followed by my fluffy black kitty; with another elastic band in her mouth! She dropped it at my feet and proceeded to rub around my legs (annoying not at all interested in my new purchase), while purring profusely.
By this time, I’m in utter shock and confusion. What is her obsession with elastic bands? Where on earth is she even getting them from? And why is she bringing them to me?! Again, I disposed of it and continued about my day.

Fast forward to Monday. We’d had a good weekend, not an elastic band insight. Then, as I walk out my front door, my eye catches something. Something black, crossing the road. Clove. With, yep, you’ve guessed it, ANOTHER elastic band. Luckily, she dropped it as soon as she saw me but it didn’t stop her begging for attention and acknowledgement.

The next day, when I came home from work, I found another elastic band, torn up, on my bed. So, as you can see, my cat has an elastic band problem, addiction even. It’s a very peculiar, very unique addiction but at least it isn’t birds or mice. I have a feeling the postman is dropping them during his morning routine and Clove, being a good member of society, has taken it upon herself to rid the streets of his litter. Or perhaps she just thinks they are weird bouncy things that she’s never seen before. For whatever reason, It’s another trait to add to her expanding personality.

Latitude 2018 – Part One: The Festival.

Dear Blog,

Last months I had the most amazing 5 days volunteering at Latitude Festival. As I volunteered as well as went to my first ever festival, I’ve decided to split this blog into two; One part dedicated the festival itself and the second part dedicated to my volunteering experience with Hotbox Events. Enjoy!

As my long time followers will be aware of, 2018 marks a year of change for me. A year of saying more ‘Yes’ and less ‘No’ and so far, I have pushed myself in ways I never thought possible. As a teetotaler and overall introvert, the festival scene has never really been very appealing but when the advert to volunteer popped up on my Facebook all the way back in February, I thought “Meh, why not” and I am so glad I did.

Latitude, located only 45 minutes from me in Norwich, is known as a more chilled, family friendly, kind of festival with something to entertain everyone. With this in mind, it felt like a safe bet.

I arrived at the campsite on the 11th July, a day before the festival was opened to the public so I could be briefed on my shifts and site rules ect… There wasn’t much to do that day as the world cup dominated most of the afternoon. The following day however, the festival Village opened and staff members were allowed exclusive access the arena area of the festival. I took this opportunity to take a bunch of Snapchat videos and compiled them into a handy little snap shot of my day. It was great to see all the stalls and stages free before becoming rammed with festival goers in the coming days. I managed to get quite a few freebies too! Including a t-shirt, drinks and several wristbands. I was very happy. It was a great little V.I.P experience. unfortunately, during June and July, Britain experiance one of its longest and hottest dry spells, leaving the ground very dusty and the grass had turned to straw so the entire festival sort of felt like it was being held in a barn. I would be lovely to see what it looked like before.

There were five different stages; Two main music stages (the BBC Music tent and Obelisk), The Comedy stage, The Lake view and The Water front which were mainly for the lesser known bands and alternative entertainment. There were also other little stages scattered around in various places.

It is a tradition of Latitudes to spray paint their sheep pink. I’m not entirely sure why but I have been told they don’t mind and it washes off as soon as it rains. So please don’t be alarmed if you see them in the below video.

 

The festival opened up to the public on friday and it was already really busy. I remember looking at the crowds thinking “There is no way more people can arrive?!” but of course with the headline act playing on saturday evening, it was going to get a lot more intense. The great thing about the more well-known acts playing at the weekend was that most of Fridays entertainment was from up and coming singer/comedians. Some of the best jokes were from entertainers who were still finding their feet in show business. I was truly amazing to be able to witness this person who, no doubt about it, will become a successful comedian, spread their wings on what is probably their biggest stage to date. These performances were also the lease crowded so you got the enjoy the experience from a reasonable distance. One of my favourite highlights from Latitude.

A lot of the stalls had begun to open up on the Friday and anything that was offering freebies, I was there (I love my freebies). Hair brand Aussie were offering some free dry shampoo samples and fresh juices if you took a photo in their bathtub. As you can see in my video below, I gladly took part. I was a fan of Aussie before the festival so free dry shampoo sounded amazing, especially given how much dust was in the air from our lack of rain. The juice however… Perhaps a little too much on the healthy side for my liking. It was beetroot, carrot and ginger. I think I’ll give that a miss next time.

 

I was on duty for most of Saturday but once my shift had finished, I was able to rush over to see Harry Hill at the Comedy tent. That was an interesting experience. unfortunately, I found his act to be rather dry especially as his closer was to get members of the audience to lick a piece of styrofoam and stick them altogether. Yes, it really was that weird. It became apparent that Harry works better with a script and TV studio.

I discovered my favourite stall after watching Harry Hill; Festival Postcards. A little stall that sold festival themed postcards (what gave that away) and a little post box so you could send them, while at the festival. I can not emphasise how excited I was to discover such a stall existed. A long running tradition of Gemma’s and mine is send each other postcards so this inexpensive shop was a little hidden treasure.

The Killers were Latitudes big headline act and what an act they were. I managed to get reasonably close to the front of the stage and my view was brilliant. Brandon Flowers has such a fantastic stage presence, genuinely looking happy to be there and entertain us all. About half way through their set, The Killers noticed two signs in the audience asking to play the drums. Picking one, the gentleman (I can’t remember his name. Micheal? Micky? I’m sure it began with an M) took to the stage and aced ‘For Reasons Unknown’. The whole crowd was cheering this guys name. It must have been an amazing feeling. Now, I don’t know if this bit was staged or not but I like to think it was a genuine act if kindness. The guys face of pure nerves and concentration seemed far too real.

 

I didn’t have much free time on Sunday (my last day) as my shift began midafternoon. There wasn’t much on in the morning so I made myself at home in one of the handy hammocks that were scattered across the festival grounds. It was so oddly peaceful. You would never expect to be able to swing happily in a hammock beside a river during a festival. It’s one of the many aspects that make Latitude so unique.

I manged to watch the Chortle Student Comedy finalists. They were a funny bunch of university students who had all entertain the Chortle contest while in the middle of their degree’s. I have a lot of respect for anyone who can take on something like this while studying as doing my degree alone, took all my time and energy. There were six finalists, all given a 7 minute window to blow us away with their jokes. Most successeded. It was an enjoyable experience.

 

As you can see, my videos get progressively shorter the busier Latitude and I became.

All in all, this was an absolutely amazing experience. There really aren’t many things in life that I would give a 10/10 review but this has come very VERY close. I’ll say a 9.9/10 (I don’t believe anything can be perfect). As my first ever festival, Latitude was a very fun, relaxed place to be. I felt safe, comfortable and just genuinely on a high all week-long. I hope next year is just as good.

 

I have not be paid to promote anything or anyone featured in the article. All opinions are my own. 

Soldiers of Love.

Face to face,
Meters apart.
The dusty battlefield sketches out our territory.
A gentle breeze compliments the dusk sky.
Lets do this.
I fight for the future.
You fight for the present.
Go.
You’re slow off the bat,
I aim my words,
Knowing exactly which ones to use and where they’ll hit.
In one swift motion I fire.
“When should we move in together?”
“Do you want children?”
“Shall we move away?”
“I hope we grow old together”
“What about marriage?”
“Imagine our first home.”
In rapid succession,
They fly towards you,
But you play your card,
Defence mode.
My words fly closer and the dust uplifts.
I catch my breath,
The dust clears.
You dodged every word.
Your loyal move.
I wipe my brow,
I’m not done yet.
I try my next trick,
Flicking though my arsenal,
I find what I’m looking for.
In a frenzy I shoot,
Miniature family and friends sore in your direction.
Accompanied by whispers of laugher and joy,
Quizzes and birthday celebration.
Topped with all the adventures we were going to have.
I can see you panic.
Don’t get overwhelmed now.
You were unprepared for this fight.
Your inventory is empty.
The wind picks up.
You try to run.
But you take the hit.
Bombarded.
Consumed.
As the dust clears,
You stand motionless.
Blood trickles down your nose.
I have little remorse.
I see that you’re weak,
So I take another chance.
Time to use my ultimate weapon.
I step closer to you.
I smirk.
I know what it will do to you.
What she will do to you.
I release the cat.
Sprinting at full force,
She targets you,
Eyes fixed,
Claws primed.
Clouds cast over the closer she gets,
Thunder rumbles.
You don’t stand a chance.
She was always your weakness regardless what you tell yourself.
On impact,
Claws rip chunks of flesh,
Screams fill the battlefield,
Echoing afar.
Shes psychotic.
I have my own battle scars to prove it.
Claw piece deep,
Puncturing vessels.
As you collapse from the pain caused by such a small thing,
As the blood begins to drain away,
You surrender.
I call off the cat.
She retreats back into the shadows.
I am victorious.
I approach your limp body as you gasp for breath,
For mercy.
I hover over you.
Pathetic.
With your last ounce of strength,
You surprise me.
You throw memories.
I’m unprotected,
Flashbacks hit me over and over,
Holidays,
Theme parks,
Date nights.
I’m wounded.
Fuck.
I won’t be defeated,
I represent too much!
I’ve come too far!
I watch you,
Your fading.
You know it too.
I don’t want to kill you.
I’ll wait until the next fight.
As I walk away,
You use all your power and fire your final shot.
Your ultimate weapon.
I know it’s coming.
I can hear it rushing towards me,
I duck and roll.
No,
No,
No…
“I love you.”
No,
No,
NO!
It lands on my neck,
Theres an explosion of light.
I’m down.
I’m hurt bad.
I can’t move.
You crawl towards me.
Your pain is audible.
Slowly,
You find your feet,
Clutching your broken body.
We look into each other eyes,
In unison,
Utter one final sentence:
“It’s over.”

Arctic One Summer Challenge 2018.

This summer, I have partnered with Arctic One to partake in their ‘Summer of Sports’ event. Arctic One is a charity with aim of getting more people of all ability, involved with sports in one form or another. Though their work and the support of the pubic, Arctic One have been able to give grants to 115 people since 2015. These grants give people with disabilities an oppotunity to pursue sports and inspire the next generation of para-athletes. It is a brilliant charity and I am super excited for the next few weeks.

So the challenge: beginning the 28th May, I have until the 1st September to complete three challenges:

  • Cycle 1000km/621 miles.
  • Swim 50km/31 miles
  • Complete 100 hours of any Sporting Activity.

They don’t have to be done in one sitting (thank god) and if I complete all three then I’ll receive a medal and piece of clothing. Cycling will be the hardest. On the 1st July, I am participating in a 75 mile sportive around Norfolk, although that will barely touch my 621 mile target. As for swimming, I aim to swim a mile (64 laps of a 25 meter pool) each session and if I go every other day, I’ll be done in a month or so. I have no way to officially document this so you’ll have to trust me when I say I’ve completed a mile. If you have read my ‘From Frogs to Breaststrokes‘ blog, you will know that swimming isn’t my strongest ability (you’ll also be happy to know that I have somewhat mastered the breaststroke) so this task is just that little bit harder.
With both these task combined, challenge number 3 should be easy to complete.

I’ve decided for extra motivation, to write a blog every week to document my progress. It’s not going to be easy but its a challenge I’m excited to undertake. Wish me luck!

For more information on Arctic One and where you can donate money if you wish, please visit www.arctic1.co.uk

If Fairy God Parents Were Real.

Dear Blog,

Do you remember the children’s television show “fairly odd parents?” It was a show I watched far too often back in my pre-teen days. Fresh out of school, I’d jump into the sofa, still in my uniform and flick through the channels until I found the one playing my favourite show. I then proceeded to waste hour after hour of my youth, watching Timmy and his two fairy god parents and their crazy adventures. It was a great time to be alive.

Now, the older I get, the more I think back to that show and how absolutely amazing it would be if fairy god parents actually existed. Or any form of spritual guardian for that matter. I’m not include Shinigami’s into that, despite how cool a character Ryuk is, he is also absolutely terrifying and does more damage than good.

If guardian angels existed, there would be no issues in our lives. We could simply wish for a solution to any of our problems. No more milk in the fridge? No problem, I’ll just wish for more milk. And It wouldn’t cost me a penny! Ok, so perhaps there should be rules. If we could just wish for anything we wanted, we’d destroy the planet in less than 2 days.
What if instead of being magical guardians, they were there to help you out, literally providing you with guidance. So this is how I want my guardian angel to be, to pop up out of nowhere and provide an answer to my question:

“Guardian Angel, what is a female lumberjack called?”
*pop*
“Well Dannie, I’m glad you asked. A female lumberjack is called a lumberjill.”
“Wow. Thanks so much guardian angel”
*pop*

(Then I would just freeze and let the invisible credits roll past my face)

 

That idea is very similar to Janice from ‘The Good Place’. Almost like a physical google!
But… What if they could do more? What if they could tell you where you left your car keys, preventing you from frantically searched your house, upending every piece of furniture? What if they could remind you what you actually went to the shop for before you buy everything else besides the toilet roll you’ve run out of?
Or… What if they could tell you who you were going to marry? Whether that person was going to be with you until the day you died. If we had something like that then we wouldn’t need to waste years on pointless people just to end up broken-hearted because we knew they were never going to be that person.
That would be a life changer. Though a lot of divorce lawyers would lose their jobs…

This is the kind of random crap I think about at half past 2 in the morning, half way though my 12 hour night shift. I need to go refill my cup of tea.

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Over It, Over Us, Over You.

This whole ‘Lets remain friends’ thing was only to humor you. I knew it was never going to work. Besides the history, friends come and go with the seasons and as you know, I was never very good as holding on to the special ones. Sure, I wanted to keep you around. I wanted to hear the jokes again, the laughter. Maybe I wanted to see that cheesy grin reflecting in the mirror as you creep up behind me to give me a hug while I brushed my teeth one last time… Oh wait, you never once did that.
Ok then, perhaps I wanted to keep that sense of familiarity. Meeting people, getting to know them, its such hard work and I’m not the kind of person to just put myself out there on a platter, letting any ol’ random who takes an interest, have a bite. Finding someone, a person, its hard for me. And you’re so close by… But that’s selfish and while the future may set off the atomic bomb in my stomach, triggering the hypotension and perspiration all while resulting in an overload of anxiety, there is this small hope, almost excitement that I will find the person of my dreams. The person who showers me with affection without being asked to. The person who will ultimately be everything you weren’t: Enough.
Alright. I’ll be truly honest. The reason I kept you around was because I was scared. It scares me. The whole “us being over” thing. I thought, that just maybe, for the first time in my little insignificant life, that you were the one that all the magazines, all the movies and TV shows talk about. I thought you were my ‘Forever’. And I can’t accept that. Like William Wallace, stood in the middle of the battle field, surrounded by the bodies of fellow fallen warriors. I raise my arm, shout at the top of my aching lungs: “You may never take my freedom!…” but my freedom means nothing if I don’t have you.

 

 


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