Tag Archives: new year

Making plans for another huge year of travel in 2017

15181277_10153970689502617_3934123284494633256_nNow that the new year is well and truly underway, it’s about time I gave you a little life update. This blog has been a little infrequent the last few months and I know that means many of you actually have no idea where I am right now. Well, after a month of flat-hunting and staying with friends as I job searched, I can now officially say I am all settled in my amazing new flat right in the middle of Melbourne city, I have an awesome job working in a rooftop bar, and life feels pretty damn incredible. Once again, Melbourne feels like the home I’ve been waiting for and I couldn’t be happier to be back surrounded by all my amazing friends, and a whole heap of new ones. I know the blog posts have been few and far between since I left England again, but between Bali, Cairns, road tripping through Tasmania and now Melbourne – it’s been pretty hectic. Life just got in the way and I won’t apologise for that, because life is exactly what this blog is about – living every second to the max. And I can assure you I’ve been doing just that.

Yesterday was officially my two year travel anniversary, just two months ago I hit my 30th country, and I’m already making plans for the next exciting year of travel. I’m still the same girl who left home two years ago, I still have the same best friends at home, the same family and I’m still happily single and independent. But I’m also an amazing new version of myself – happier, brighter, bolder, crazier and ready to take on the world with every step. I’m capable, I’m knowledgeable and quite frankly, I know exactly what I’m doing, I don’t second guess myself. It’s the best version of myself I’ve ever been and I plan to keep taking steps to evolve and grow myself in this direction, I can’t see any reason why not to. So for all the people who have asked when I’m coming home, or when I’m going to stop travelling. My answer is who knows, whenever I get bored of growing as a person, learning, changing and being happy – but it won’t be anytime soon.

If you haven’t seen my post from just before New Years, check it out here to read about my travelling highlights from 2016. It was a year of serious highs, and one serious low, but you can’t live the highs without having the lows to compare them with. I use the lows to add fuel to my fire and make plans for the future, it’s the one thing that pushes me to make snap decisions and to book the trip, or take the plunge. So for all those girls out there who message me almost daily to ask about their relationship problems, or choosing between love and travel. Two years on, I will still say that choosing travel over love was the best decision of my life, that we remain the best of friends but both say this was the best thing to ever happen to us. That choosing to keep travelling and forget the love that I found on the road was also the best decision I could have made, because I know otherwise I would have regretted it and been let down. It wasn’t so much choosing travel over love, but choosing myself over people who would just let me down. That’s not a selfish decision, it’s a smart one and because I chose well, I have no regrets.15181702_10153970688737617_8366636806619897556_n

So what are the big travelling plans for 2017?

I’ll now be settling in Melbourne for a few months to work and save money for my big West Coast road trip – hopefully happening around March/April – when myself and a friend will drive from Melbourne up to Darwin over a few months. I’ve been looking forward to this trip since arriving in Australia and I know it’s going to be the best yet. Then up in Darwin, we’ll be taking in all the National Parks as I work and save for my last few months in Australia – gotta make the most of these $$$.

After my visa runs out, I’ll be having a month-long holiday somewhere in Asia – possibly the Philippines as I’ve been desperate to visit since I arrived in Asia. I’ll be craving huge untouched beaches by then and a chance to relax and detox after Darwin. Then I’m hoping to be joined by one of my best travelling friends for a huge trip to South America where I’d love to spend a few months travelling as much as possible.

It’s all just a vague plan at the moment and it may all change at the drop of a hat, but it’s exciting to have goals for the year. So this year will be less countries ticked off, but I’ll be crossing at least three continents and should hopefully get at least another five countries ticked off my list which is far more than many people around the globe. I’d say I’m a lucky girl, but I made all this happen by investing in myself and my trip. You can make it happen too, it’s very easy, just make a decision to do it and you’ll get there.15230746_10153970703987617_5186619301054171263_n

My New Year’s resolution?

Forget all this “New Year, New Me” bullshit, I’ve been doing awesome the last two years so if anything, I’m planning to keep up my attitude to life and following my own bliss – the rest all falls into place as a result. Stop worrying about the small negative things and the rest suddenly becomes the everything you’ve been searching for.

What are your New Year’s resolutions? Where do you plan to travel in 2017?

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2016 – The end of another amazing year of travel

15747862_10154056897662617_3367207312712882158_nThere’s no doubt about it, 2016 has been a pretty incredible year for me. I’ve had some soaring highs and felt pretty low at times, but I’ve also had the chance to experience some thing I never could have dreamed I would. I crossed three continents and ticked off my 30th country, worked with hotels, spas and restaurants either side of the globe for this blog, I said goodbye to love so that I could travel Europe solo and I made some incredible friends along the way. I’ve worked as a sales manager, a cocktail waitress, a journalist along the way and all the while I’ve been working on creating amazing content for this blog. 2016 has been a year of working hard and playing harder, and as it draws to a close I can’t help but reminisce over the special times I’ve shared with amazing people. From the teary goodbyes at the airport, to the mates I’ve shared incredible road trips with this summer, to the incredible welcome home I got from some of my best friends when I arrived back in Melbourne. Getting the opportunity to celebrate a real Aussie Christmas surrounded by so many amazing friends was a perfect way to end the year. But what have the highlights been?

My top 5 travelling experiences of 2016:

Melbourne

Without a doubt, Melbourne is my number one for the year. Voted the Most Liveable City in the World six years running, it’s no wonder I’ve just moved back here for the second time. I lived in Melbourne at the start of the year and it was the first place in nearly two years that had felt like home. I had an amazing flat, a great job as a sales manager, the most incredible friends and I completely fell for a great guy. Now I’m back for round two and I’m already well on my way with a great job at a rooftop bar and my own brand new apartment. Melbourne, you are well and truly my second home.12742300_10153292964597617_7986843509108504989_n

Budapest

A city I had dreamed of visiting for years, Budapest was everything I had imagined and more. I loved the history, the beauty, the architecture and the people I met there. Part of my summer backpacking trip around Europe, it was a perfect opportunity to explore the city independently and to have some amazing experiences. One of my favourites was eating dinner in a traditional Hungarian restaurant with my newfound Aussie and Norwegian mates talking about the world under a blanket of stars. Visiting Budapest reminded me how much I love exploring a new city alone on foot, and it’s a city I can’t wait to revisit.image

Slovenia

Slovenia was an amazing experience – not only did I get to explore some of Eastern Europe, a dream of mine for several years, but I was invited along on my first blogging trip. It was an amazing privilege and a reminder of how hard I have worked to build up this travel blog over the last few years. Spending a week at a luxury glamping site on the Slovenian/Croatian border was a fantastic way to see the country – from woodland hikes to swimming in the rivers, to visiting locals and eating feasts of freshly caught local fish. The people, and the place, made it unforgettable.image

Bali

My second blogging trip of the year came about only as a last minute plan – I was at a low point and unsure of what my next move would be when one of my best travelling friends invited me to Bali. It was the best decision ever and led to my being invited along to review hotels, spas and restaurants on the island. What was supposed to be a week-long trip turned into a month and yet I still wasn’t ready to leave. I explored the Bali countryside on motorbike, visited temples, explored monkey forests, swam in the waves, spotted manatees and swam with sea turtles. It was the holiday I had needed – not just travelling, it was a holiday and one of which I appreciated every second.img_2178

Tasmania

Definitely the most breathtakingly beautiful place I have been yet, by far. Tasmania was somewhere I had longed to visit since arriving in Australia and “mini-New Zealand” definitely lived up to the hype. I spent three weeks there staying in the best hostel I have found yet in Australia, exploring Hobart and road tripping around 11 national parks in just 10 days. I hiked for days on end, camped wild under the stars and the full moon, I climbed several mountains and spotted countless whales, kangaroos, wombats and wallabies. It was a magical experience and one I’m so glad I made happen, it was just what I needed. A true breath of fresh air.img_2381

After such an incredible year, it’s hard to imagine just how 2017 could top 2016. I’ve travelled to eight different countries this year, I’ve lived in two of them long-term, I’ve gone from outback living to city slicker to beach babe and total mermaid. I’ve taken my clothes off on top of a mountain in the snow, I’ve changed my mind in 10 minutes and booked a spontaneous flight to the other side of the world. I’ve refused to stop living my dream for anyone other than myself and I’ve made a plan for the future. It’s an exciting time to be Absolutely Lucy and it all starts again when the clock strikes 12 on New Years. Another fresh start, another exciting adventure and another dream come true. I’m ready, are you?

Where has been your favourite place to travel to this year? Have you enjoyed following my adventures? What are your travel plans for 2017?

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If you’re making travel plans for 2017 already – look no further than Sunshine for cheap holidays that will bring your dream destination a little closer. With hotel deposits from just £1 and holiday deposits from just £50, they’ll help you make your dream trip a reality.

Happy New Year | My 2015 highlights and what I’ve learnt | 2015

imageWow, I can’t believe 2015 is finally at an end. It’s been a hell of a year and I still can’t quite believe I didn’t dream some of it. It’s safe to say, this has been the best year of my life yet and I am happier than I’ve ever been before – if you knew how I was feeling at the end of last year you’d realise what an incredible change a year has had on my life. I ended 2014 with my life totally up in the air, I’d just quit a good, steady job, I’d put all my money into a plane ticket to the other side of the world, and I’d just broken off a nine year relationship. Pretty dramatic eh? So although I was beyond excited about my plans for travelling across Asia, Australia and New Zealand, I was also questioning whether I had made the right decision, whether I could really do this. Whether I could do this all by myself. I had a bit of a wobble in the airport over a glass of wine when I read all the amazing messages of support from friends and family, but then I realised it didn’t even matter if it all went tits up – I had the best people at home to pick up the pieces. Knowing that gave me all the strength I needed to realise it would all be fine and I was going to have an incredible adventure. So that was exactly what I did. In just five days it will be a year since I boarded that plane and set out on the trip of a lifetime, which should have been ending in just a few days but instead is still going strong with no real end in sight.

In the last 12 months I’ve been through so much – I’ve met the most incredible people and seen the most beautiful things, I’ve stayed up all night to watch the sunrise in the most amazing places, I’ve faced my own mortality and I’ve realised so much about myself and what I want out of life. It sounds cheesy, but getting away from life as I knew it has really taught me a lot about the way I want to live my life and it definitely doesn’t fit into any boxes society has carved out for me. The last 12 months has been about breaking all the rules, setting new ones and living the dream. Looking back, all the pain leading up to my decision to travel was more than worth it now because it led me to this part of my life and I wouldn’t trade this for the world. I’ve never felt freer and being trapped at home while I raised the cash to come and do this was totally worth it because I have appreciated every second since then all the more. I feel so incredibly proud of myself for doing this all alone – it’s the first time I’ve done anything truly independent of friends, family and a boyfriend so that is a huge achievement and it has been the biggest boost to my confidence. I know now that if I can survive a year of travelling solo and not only smash it, but have the most incredible time, then I can do anything!

I’ve done so many amazing things in the last year; from racing round Bangkok in tuk tuks to trekking through jungle to waterfalls, I’ve volunteered with elephants and gone hill tribe trekking in Northern Thailand, I’ve partied insanely hard down on the Thai islands and eaten copious amounts of curry and pad Thai. I’ve swam through caves and kayaked out on a lake in the centre of a 180 million year old rainforest at sunrise, I’ve hiked up to a temple to watch the sun rise over Phuket, I’ve bartered at markets and lived my days in tie-dye, I’ve clung to my friend as we raced around on motorbikes and persuaded friends not to ride elephants. I’ve spent two days on a slow boat to Laos singing annoying songs, I’ve swam through waterfalls pretending to be a mermaid, I’ve gone bowling in weird places in Laos and been tubing with a load of nut cases as we drank our way down the river bars and created chaos. I’ve fallen in love with Vietnam from the history to the food, I’ve been on cycling tours, visited waterfalls, worked out on the beach, explored markets, had clothes made for me, abseiled down waterfalls and jumped off cliffs.imageI’ve seen the beauty in rural Cambodia and the genuine kindness of the locals, I’ve been healed by yoga, meditation and the beautiful people around me, I’ve been pampered and massaged by experts, I’ve learnt all about a history I never knew happened and I’ve watched the sun rise over Angkor Wat. I’ve celebrated my 25th birthday surrounded by friends old and new in a brand new country, I’ve realised what Australia has to offer, I’ve seen cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin and I’ve travelled for two months with another person. I’ve seen what the East Coast has to offer; I’ve 4WD around Fraser Island, I’ve swam with sea turtles on Whitsundays and been white water rafting, I’ve kayaked with dolphins, surfed in Byron Bay and been whale spotting, I’ve cuddled a koala and fed a kangaroo. I’ve found the best travelling family a girl could ever ask for and spent three months partying and raving my heart out with the best friends you could find. I’ve experienced the outback in Darwin and seen the Northern Territory. I’ve travelled solo across the country to live in the bush and work alone for three months.

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all be amazing – there have been rough bits too. But as one of my best friends always says, “you take the rough with the smooth”. There have been times I’ve been scared and felt horribly alone, when it’s all gone wrong and I didn’t know what to do. I’ve been robbed by taxi drivers and had to punch my way out of an argument, I’ve had to look after more than one friend after they were attacked in the most unlikely places, I’ve had to look after another friend when all of her money was stolen out of her bank account by someone we thought we could trust, and I’ve faced my own mortality three times. It’s not all smiles and sunlight when you travel and in particular those three serious crashes left me pretty shaken up. Until that point I think I always thought in the back of my mind that everything would be okay and that I was invincible but suddenly I realised that it could all come to an end quicker than you can say bye. But all of these experiences have taught me quite how important it is to live every second like it’s your last. I always have done anyway, but now it seems even more important than ever. I’ve realised that even when you’re thousands of miles away from your friends and family that there are people, good friends you meet along the way, who will come drop everything and come running to save you. And most importantly, I’ve learnt how to save myself and not rely on anyone else to do it for me.

2015 has been a year of growth, a year of triumph and success. I’ve never been prouder of myself for all I’ve achieved, and I’ve never been more excited about what the future holds. I’ve already changed my plans countless times and instead of heading home in a few days like I was supposed to, I’m staying in Australia to keep living the dream. I’ve already made travel plans for the following 18 months and I can’t wait to start living them. Instead of being the end of an incredible year and the beginning of reality kicking in, I’ve made this my reality and it feels like just the beginning of another incredible adventure. It might be egocentric but I don’t really care, this last year has shown me how amazing, strong and brave I am and it seems only right that someone who possesses these qualities would want to take on the world – so I shall. Thank you all for being with me every step of the way and I hope you’ll be sticking around for the long haul as we’ve got a long way left to go!

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Saying goodbye to the UK

sun 3As I’m sure you can imagine, last week flew by in a blur of family time, catching up with friends and saying my goodbyes, packing and a constant battle between eating my fill of British food to last me the next year and working it off at the gym to get my body even remotely bikini ready. As you read this, I’ll be somewhere in Bangkok – hopefully wandering around a market eating delicious food and taking in the sights. I’ll be spending the first couple of days in a hotel, getting my bearings and making a firmer plan for the upcoming weeks and meeting up with friends. I’m sure it will only just be starting to register that this is how my life will be for the next year – no more getting up at the crack of dawn to go to work in cold, raining England – but finally what I have been working for and planning for over 12 months is finally a reality! I can’t quite believe it myself. sun 2sun 1I have to be honest, I’ve had the worst possible run of news stories since booking my flights – it seems there’s pretty much been a murder on a Thai beach, a shark attack in Australia, or a plane going missing every bloody week! Great for reassuring my mother I’m going to survive my trip, and great for reassuring me that I’m going to survive my flight. It’s okay though, I’ve never been much of a worrier so I’m putting all these news stories to the back of my mind and just doing everything I can to avoid being mugged, raped, murdered or involved in some horrible incident. In the meantime though, I have been doing my utmost to make sure I have some very special memories of home, my family and my friends. I’m sure there will come a time when homesickness strikes and I am very glad of them! As you guys will have already read by now – I’ve got some pretty good ones in the bag after a perfect Christmas with the family, my Mexican-themed New Year’s, my Nineties-themed Leaving Party, and a couple of lovely dates with the boyfriend.IMG_7416sunrise 1This post is just a quick one to show you what else I got up to in the week between Christmas and flying out. My week started with a bracing, windy walk on the beach with my parents at Sunny Hunny – we have a beach hut there and it was a chance for me to say goodbye to the hut as I won’t be seeing it for over a year. It was a beautiful day, very frosty and the coldest morning yet of 2014, but perfectly fresh at the same time. I love walking at the beach on cold, sunny days – the air is so clean and it really does blow away all the cobwebs. It was great to get some serious fresh air and some colour in my cheeks – plus with that and a few workouts, it was great to get past feeling so stuffed with all the delicious Christmas food. We covered about six miles and it was good to spend some time back by the sea – my inner mermaid was satisfied. As you can see scattered around this post there are a few pics I captured while by the sea – it’s such a pretty place.spa paniniI also had a lovely day at the spa with my mum where we were treated to a lovely facial and full body massage, plus lots of lovely steam rooms, Prosecco and cake. A pretty perfect mummy and daughter day – it was really lovely to have a day just the two of us before I go. This was followed by New Year celebrations, catch-up’s with the boyfriend’s family and other friends and then my long-awaited Leaving Party! The week finished with a lovely family meal with my parents and grandad – then some sad goodbyes with my best friends and the boyfriend. Then before I knew it, my parents were driving me down to Heathrow and I was on a plane, and whoaa now I’m in Bangkok. Life is pretty crazy sometimes, but crazy good. After a really rubbish start to the year, I couldn’t have ended it on a better note.relax

What have you guys been up to? Are you sad to say goodbye to 2014, or are you already head-first into making 2015 the best yet?

Ab Lucy sign off

Happy New Year!

new year 2Just a quick post today to share with you guys how I spent my New Year’s Eve – as you can imagine I’m completely up to my eyeballs in packing, organising paperwork and trying to find everything I need for the next year – yikes! So this post is just a little one to mark another Happy New Year spent with the boys – my last one for a while. We’ve been having a New Year’s party together for years now so it will be strange to spend the next one away from them all. But we made sure this was a good one – me and Wolf whipped up some Mexican food and supplied the tequila – the boys brought the fun. We had a great night, all rounded off with some very bad dancing. Hope everyone else’s New Year celebrations were as much fun.new year 5new year 4new year 3new year 1new year 7new year 8Of course there was talk of what our New Year’s resolutions might be, but we all agreed there is very little point in making a resolution when we’re all happy the way we are. Also – I certainly don’t want to come back from travelling to find out they have all changed! All this New Year New Me rubbish… I think we’re all getting a bit old for that – if we really wanted to make a change, we would just do it and there would be no reason to wait for the New Year. I made my change months ago and next week it will finally begin! Bring it on! I hope that however you spent your New Year, that it was full of family and friends, and plans for the future. Whatever 2015 has in store for you, make it a big year!

How did you celebrate New Year? What have you got planned for 2015?

Ab Lucy sign off

From the darkest days to the happiest new year

cheersAs New Year approaches, I wanted to take the time to write a post about how thankful I am to be ending the year on such a high. It hasn’t been the easiest year for me, and it had a pretty rotten beginning that even forced me to take a time out from blogging. I remember feeling the lowest I ever have back in January and February, wondering what the hell my life had become and desperately looking for a way out. It was pretty horrible, and I won’t lie, it makes me pretty sad to look back on it now because for a short while I became a very different person. Over the months that followed, I gradually got my life back and started to be happy again – how did I do it? I started making plans for my future, I threw myself into work and saved hard, and then, I booked a ticket and planned to travel the world. It’s not an option that is available to everyone, but having that goal and that hope of a better 2015 was really what got me through and I’m so happy I made that choice.

I’m not alone in this, I know so many people who seem to have found this year a bit of a struggle. For some it was horrible and totally out-of-the-blue break-ups, for others it was a crisis at work or even redundancy, and for some, it was just realising that they weren’t where they wanted to be in life. Everyone has dealt with it in different ways, and every single one has made it out the other side with a smile on their faces.

I’m really proud to know so many people who have not only survived a difficult year, but who have made it their bitch.

I hope that I can count myself among them, and that’s why I have thrown myself into blogging and saving – my main two pastimes for the year. I like to think it has really paid off with huge blogging milestones like being recognised by a complete stranger on a night out, being chosen as Blogger of the Week for two large blogging publications and being shortlisted out of over 2,000 entries for the individual travel blog section of the UK Blog Awards. I’m really proud of all this, and it is a wonderful feeling to have all your hard work pay off, but it wouldn’t have happened without your support.

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So I’m saying goodbye to 2014 – the year of survival and hard work. And welcoming in 2015 – the year of success and happiness. I’ve done nothing but work hard and pay my dues this year and I plan to take back 2015 as my year of following my dreams and pursuing what I really love. It’s time I did something that is just for me, not for anyone else. I think it’s time we all did the same – have you been putting something off because you’re scared to jump? Well no more. This year let’s all take a risk – let’s all go after that dream and make it our reality. Life is short and this year has flown by, so why let another year disappear without reaching that goal, or even setting one? Everyone I know seems to be setting themselves goals at the moment – some are getting engaged and planning a wedding, others are heading off to university, or are planning a big move and a new job… all very inspiring individuals. Me? I’m planning to be happy, to see things I haven’t seen before, to experience cultures and see the world. But without an amazing group of friends, family and blog supporters, I don’t think I could have dreamed I would be in this position a year ago. So this post is to say thanks to all of you guys for all those times you listened and all those times you gave me the push I needed to start making my dreams a reality.

How do you feel looking back on your 2014? And what goals have you set yourself for 2015?

Ab Lucy sign off

Seeing out the old and partying into 2014

 

My New Year’s Eve was certainly not the best of recent years, not through any party problems, fights or anything like that, simply, I was ill and felt a bit rubbish. I was gutted to wake up feeling awful on Tuesday morning after shaking, shivering and sweating all the night before – it was horrible! I can cope with a regular cold, but this was a bit more than that. But I refused to let it get to me too much, I treated me and the boyfriend to two juicy steaks for tea which he cooked to absolute perfection for our last meal of 2013 and then after a rest I put some slap on and we headed round to a mate’s house for our annual NYE party.

Usually carnage, these parties have literally seen every type of crazy games, light shows, Chinese lanterns, alcohol, cocktails and of course, there’s been a couple of fights.. We always have so much fun and it is an amazing chance for us to get the whole gang together for a blowout with a few of us living away now. Last year’s party was organised by myself and the boyfriend when he was still living in the house with the others, Mark went all out and treated us to everything short of indoor fireworks and we had an amazing evening with a packed house of laughter and lots of shots. It was great! This year, the others had organised great decorations and even a party punch that was delicious, and a couple of games such as FlipCup – which was so much fun!

My team – The Blues – were the undisputed winners of the game which saw us drunkenly trying to flip cups off the table to land on the opposite side or even on top of another cup after shots, tricky but very fun! Then we joined in Twister while we were tied together in partners and I made it to the final with one other boy – pretty proud.  There was a lot of music, dancing, some funky laser lights and lots of good fun throughout the evening, all rounded up in the midnight kiss with everyone and the standard group hug.

It was another fantastic new year with great friends who I’ve shared amazing memories with this year, but sadly I had to leave a little earlier than usual because I was shattered and feeling a bit rubbish – for once I was the first to call it a night! I’m glad I did or I think I would have felt even worse yesterday and today than I have been feeling… But I’ve been well looked after by the boyfriend who dosed me up with painkillers and cuddles. I’m pretty excited about our promise to each other that next NYE will be spent just the two of us away somewhere, much as I love the huge parties, this year it was missing my two best friends who were also ill or living away and it was most definitely not the same. Next year I am looking forward to a cosy NYE in with a bottle of champagne and my favourite person.

How did everyone else spend their NYE? And who had the hangover from hell the next day?

 

 

New Year, New Me? Not on your nelly!

It’s that time of year again, when we all start making a mental tally of quite how many mince pies we have gorged ourselves on, how many fags we smoked while out partying the night away, how many late nights and hangovers we’ve put ourselves through, and of course, how many times we have let our exercise regime slip between the cracks over the festive period.

The guilt slips in and we start making a list of all the ways we should be improving our lives, the way we treat ourselves and others and all those changes we should be making to fit with society’s view of how we should look and behave. Well I say NO MORE! Throw off the shackles of society’s expectations this New Year and stop yourself from becoming one of those annoying people who post “New Year New Me” Facebook statuses, and join the real world.

I firmly believe that if you want to set yourself a goal, you should not wait for a specific date or for a huge blow out over Christmas and then try to change your life in the most miserable month of the year. If you really want to make a serious change, why not start any other date of the year? I don’t understand why people are always so obsessed with changing themselves instead of focusing on celebrating all they have achieved over the course of the year. For example, I may have lost a couple of friends this year through complicated friendships that blew up, or even through death, but that is not what I will be focusing on this New Year’s Eve – instead I will be thinking about the amazing friends I made this year, the incredible experiences I have had and the great work opportunities I have been given.

Too many people start thinking they must lose weight, be healthier, stop smoking etc at this time of year, but the problem is that while a very small number actually keep to their resolutions, the vast majority fail to. This is because so many people have this terrible habit of making false promises to themselves because of feelings of obligation that they should not subject themselves to. Fair enough, you might genuinely want to achieve these things, but so many start out thinking they MUST do these things rather than really WANTING to. This is the difference – if you really want to do something you will do it no matter what day of the week it is or how hard it is. If you simply think it is something you should do, you are less likely to really commit to the changes – like my boyfriend who has been promising his family he would quit smoking every year as long as I have known him!

If I ask my readers for one thing, and one thing only this year, please let it be to use this New Year’s Eve to celebrate your achievements and how far you have come and the friends and family who have joined your for the ride, rather than worrying about some silly ideas of conforming to society expectations by changing who you are to become some “cheap, skinny, sober bitch”. You can’t need to change that much if you have all your friends, family and loved ones around you this Christmas – so don’t resign yourself to thinking you need to change in this way when you should be proud of yourself.

I don’t mean to sound cocky in any way, mainly because I am applying this to everyone of you who is reading – but we’ve survived another year of heavy job cuts, redundancies, Gangnam Style, storms, terrorist attacks, people being beaten to death in the streets, and much more horrific crimes. We should be pleased to have these, a roof over our heads, perhaps not the job we want, but a foot on the career ladder and hope for the future. We have loved ones, relationships, friendships and plenty more to build on next year. We should look at the positives and what we want to continue into 2014 to keep building ourselves up, but without sacrificing the person we have become.

I hope you have a very Happy New Year and good luck for 2014.

 

Navigate the Christmas work do and escape the New Year’s shame

It’s that time of year again, when the invites to the Christmas party whiz round the office and instantly your stomach either leaps at the excitement of a night-out with your workmates, or your heart sinks at the thought of yet another opportunity to shame yourself in front of your colleagues. Which will it be? Well, take a look at these top tips and hopefully you will survive the Christmas party this year, avoiding the embarrassment of going back to work in the New Year.

  1. If you want to get out of drinking altogether, why not just say that you are driving? Offer to give people a lift to the do and that way they’ll be so grateful not to have to pay for expensive taxis that you might get away with it with minimal peer pressure. Or, if you don’t have a car, try the ‘I’m on antibiotics’ one – it works every time, just tell them you have an ear infection.
  2. Learn to say no. It’s hard to refuse a drink here, or a snack there at Christmastime, but they soon add up and you’ve eaten 1,000 calories worth of junk before dinner, or you’ve drunk the whole bottle and have a stinking hangover. If your workmates are the type to keep offering drinks and pushing more wine on you, just say no thanks then move the conversation on – after a while they’ll stop offering if you keep distracting them.
  3. If you do drink, try lying. Fair enough, telling lies is not nice, but Santa will forgive some little white lies if they will preserve your head on Christmas Day and you’ll thank yourself when you have some extra cash in the New Year. Just try telling people you’re drinking doubles and actually order a single. Or, say you are drinking vodka and a mixer, then just have the mixer! So simple, just don’t let anyone else accidentally have your drink! Avoid cocktails at all costs.
  4. Say you are really skint and can’t afford rounds, this gives you more control over how much you drink, rather than ending up with a new drink in your hand every five minutes… it might save you some cash as well!
  5. If you are drinking but don’t want to get smashed in front of your work pals, try having one glass of water to each glass of wine, it will keep you hydrated and stop you getting as drunk as quick. It will also make you drink more slowly. If at a meal, ask for water for the table.
  6. Not drinking? Or sticking to just a couple? Give yourself a curfew and avoid any chance of getting smashed later on and making a fool of yourself. If you set yourself a home time, you are a lot less likely to be sucked into a round of shots right before you leave which means you are less likely to stay and drink until you pass out. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with leaving before the end of a party – after a certain point, things just get messy and people get very silly.
  7. EAT! Food is your best friend when it comes to a party with drinks. Line your stomach with a big breakfast and make sure you have a carb-heavy dinner or lunch to help soak up the booze. If you go for a meal at the party, be sure you eat something sensible and don’t get too distracted by the wine. Keep an eye on how much you drink with your meal – this is where the water might be handy.
  8. Dress appropriately.  The Christmas party is not a time to wear a skirt that is the size of a belt, boob tube, new sexy sequinned nightclub number or to push the boundaries on how many buttons you leave undone.
  9. Free bar? I know it’s tempting, but hold yourself back. It’s not worth the humiliation that will follow for as long as you work there.
  10. Chat to your boss and your seniors early on in the evening when you’re at your best. A heavy discussion about increasing your salary and their nose hairs is not a good idea at 1am after four bottles of wine.
  11. NO SNOGGING and NO AGGRO! Take the time to chat to people you wouldn’t normally at the do, but don’t use it as an opportunity to ‘get to know’ Tony from accounting or to finally sort out Bekki and her attitude problem. And don’t get emotional – you and your boyfriend may have just broken up and you and your mum may have had a huge fight, but drunk at the work do is not  the time to sob on your boss’ shoulder about it all!
  12. Avoid anyone who is taking pictures after 10.30pm – this is the cut off point for when you will probably start to be a bit tiddly, the photos are never flattering and you can’t trust anyone not to post them everywhere.

Good luck!

 

10 things I have learnt this year..

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When the nights start getting darker and colder, Christmas decorations start to adorn the windows along the high street, and plans are made for New Year celebrations, I often start to think back over the year and what has changed since last winter. So much has happened this year that I find it hard to remember stuff from the beginning of 2013, but I thought it was important to look at what I have learnt from the year in order to see how I’ve grown as a person from the experiences I have had. Here are just 10 of what I think are the most important things I have learnt this year:

  1. That no matter how busy you think you are, and how little time you have to pack everything in, there is always time in the day to do more if you really put your mind to it. This year I have found that as more people leave my workplace I have even more responsibility thrust upon me and I have adapted to cope with the pressure each day. I have also taken on extra work by starting a new blog and becoming editor of a festival review website which will create even more work for me, but will look great on my CV and will give me fantastic experience. On top of my full-time job and training this is a lot of work but I am determined to cope and flourish.
  2. That people who gossip are the ones who will remain stuck in the past instead of moving forward in life. That those who gossip about others are not the ones you want to be friends with, the ones they gossip about probably are. And that if you go on holiday with a group, those you looked forward to spending time with most will often disappoint and not be the ones you make memories with.
  3. Something I learnt a long time ago, but that was strongly reiterated to me this year – job may be scarce at the moment, but there is always a way of getting into the career you want and to follow your interests. And that there are so many ways of exploring these for free. Blagging is a way of life and confidence will get you everywhere.
  4. The friend that is all about the drama, makes every situation about her and is constantly unreliable will eventually let you down. I had a friend who was one of my closest this time last year, then, a few months ago she just cut me off completely with no explanation. I can only assume it was to do with her breaking up with her on-off boyfriend who was close with mine – but it still hurt and I expected better from her.
  5. Growing as a person and developing new interests can mean growing apart from your oldest friends. Much as I love my besties, I have realised this year how little I seem to have in common with them now. I love live music and festivals, they like The Big Reunion and cheese rooms on nights out. We still have a lot in common, but it is difficult to plan to do things together because they are not interested in the same things I am. It is sad when you grow apart, but you have to remember how much you still love each other and will always be there for each other.
  6. With all my festival experience over the last two years, I have learnt that if you need a number two at a festival the best time to go is around 8 or 9am, the toilets are always freshly cleaned at this time.
  7. No amount of age and knowledge will make up for life experience. I know lots of people who have plenty of book knowledge, but they have no frame of experience and have always lived inside a bubble. I was one of them until I experienced university and then life beyond it to the extent that I have in recent years.
  8. Again, something I have always believed but now realise more than ever how important it is to take pictures and make memories to reminisce over. After having my phone stolen after Boomtown Fair earlier this year and losing all of my pictures from the festival – I was devastated. Particularly at festivals, there is so much going on that you want to capture the moment so you can remember it afterwards when four days blur into one.
  9. It is important to not get swept up in how other people’s lives are, if others are moving fast with marriage and kids, don’t feel judged by them because you prefer to go slower and enjoy your life. Earlier this summer, silly me felt incredibly judged by an old school friend when she told me she was engaged and was shocked that my boyfriend of nearly seven years had not popped the question. It was ridiculous of me to feel that way – we had spoken about it and I had already made it clear that I was not interested in marriage and children for a while yet, but I was pushed into feeling I should comply to her views of life.
  10. Love every day, or if you can’t, feel truly happy and content with one thing each day. This year, I lost a lot of people who have meant something to me at some point. An ex-boyfriend and old friend lost his life in a terrible accident, an ex-teacher who helped shape me as a person and taught me so much lost his battle with cancer. Another colleague was diagnosed with cancer despite having no symptoms. Each was shocking and it was hard to come to terms with these losses, but they made me realise that I don’t want the same to happen to me without me first making the most of every day. I wouldn’t want to have a single day where something good didn’t happen but I accept that not everything that happens each day is good.

So there you go – a powerful year for me. A learning curve in some respects, and a confirmation of some beliefs I already held. I hope to use my new-found knowledge to build an even brighter future and to make 2014 even better than 2013.

What have you learnt this year and how will it help you in the future?