Photo of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin with blue sky and 2 shadows on the ground

So long 2017!

I feel really glad to be seeing the back of this year.

This post started life a bit differently. 2017 hasn’t been my best year. But it hasn’t been my worst. When I first started planning this post I was very much of the “2017 can f**k off” thinking. In fact at some point during November I was literally wishing away the days until the end of the year. I’m not sure why though, why does the start of a new year make you think all your s**t will go away?!

I voiced this to my Mum during a (slightly) teary phone call one night. And, as Mums generally do, she put things into perspective for me. Has 2017 really been that bad? Worse than two years ago when I called off a wedding, ended a relationship that had lasted (almost) nine years, had to move back home and then deal with the stress of being bought out of a mortgage? Well Mum, when you put it like that, not really.

So I gave myself a good shake. This has not been my finest year, and not the year I’d hoped it would be. But, I’ve still had fun during the year. I’ve learned some pretty good lessons. And there have definitely been highlights. Here’s a wee round-up of my 2017, and I guess a reminder that even when things seem bleak, and you feel pretty close to rock bottom there is (almost) always good in your life.

 

Went to my first rugby game. And my second.

After Mark going to a game with one of his friends earlier this year, we had a conversation about how I’d never been to one. Mark bought us tickets for the Scotland v Italy game in March, and it was great fun. Despite me not having a clue what was going on I loved it! The atmosphere was great, Mark didn’t get annoyed at me asking lots of questions about what was happening. And you’re allowed to drink in the stand. The game was an early kick-off so we went for more drinks and dinner in Edinburgh after. A fun, and slightly drunken, day.

We went to Scotland v New Zealand in November and got to see the Haka which was pretty cool to experience.

Was on the radio to talk about blogging and the Edinburgh Blogger Conference.

This was a really surreal experience. While planning the first Edinburgh Blogger Conference we were contacted in May through our Facebook page by Black Diamond Radio. They wanted one of us to be on their daytime show to talk about blogging. I was the only one available so volunteered, and then got the fear! What if I made a total arse of myself?! What if I got asked something I hadn’t prepared for?! Mark listened and assured me I sounded good, not like an idiot, and it was nice to chat blogging with someone. This was a MASSIVE out my comfort zone moment, but something I’m glad I did. Plus it was a nice bit of promotion for our first event.

Realised that I need to learn to trust my gut!

I got offered a job I hadn’t applied for in April this year. I guess you would say headhunted…? The job was Sales and Marketing Manager, and to be honest, from my first interview I never felt like it would be right for me. But, I needed a job. Badly! And the fact it was related to marketing swayed me to take the job despite alarm bells going off. I didn’t actually start the job until June, and by the second week in July I had decided I wouldn’t be staying after the two month trial period. Again, despite my gut telling me to run, I continued working with the company on a freelance basis. This did not work out, and I knew it wouldn’t. So 2017 taught me to trust my instincts and if something feels wrong for me, it probably is.

Planned two events as part of the Edinburgh Blogger Conference team.

Just after I found out I was getting made redundant last year, I took a chance on an opportunity to plan a blogging conference. Our original team of six reduced down to three and along with Jadine (The Punk Rock Princess) and Taryn (She Hangs Brightly) we planned an amazing conference in June. A day-long event with panels of speakers, workshops, brands and networking. Oh, and we had Nando’s too! The conference was a great success and we really made it our own, fun and relaxed while still educational. It was such a success we were pretty quick at putting plans in motion for our next one which was in December. As well as this opportunity giving me some great experience I gained new friends, something which doesn’t always seem so easy as you get older.

Did my first Tough Mudder.

Straight after the blogger conference in June, I was on my way down to Dumfries to do Tough Mudder. Although this seemed like a great idea at the start of the year when I signed up, I didn’t feel so great when I was on my way down. But it was great, the most fun I’ve ever had while caked head to toe in mud. Was it tough? Yes. It’s called Tough Mudder for a reason! Twelve miles of obstacles and running (sometimes wading) through mud. A lot of the obstacles were fun. The Mud Mile and Shawshanked were not! My body has never wanted to do anything less than dropping out of the tube on Shawshanked into the water below! The girl beside me felt the same, our mutual fear helped. We went on the count of three. If you’ve been thinking about it, do it! So. Much. Fun!

We went to Berlin!

2017 was meant to be a year of trips. After Amsterdam last year, I realised how much I wish I’d seen more places in my twenties. Obviously, the lack of job meant the plans we had didn’t quite happen. But in July we decided f**k it and started planning a trip. One of the good things about neither of us doing much travelling before now is that most of the places we go neither of us will have been before. Berlin is somewhere both of us were keen on and it was a really fun trip. You can read about it here, and here.

I turned 30.

Not really something I felt overly happy about at the time. But, I feel a lot better than I did turning 21 and I feel like my thirties are going to be a lot better than my twenties.

I got offered a job. A marketing job!

All hope of actually getting a job in marketing was pretty much gone, I thought that I wasn’t going to get to have the career change I’d wanted when I left HSBC. I had two interviews in a week in the middle of December and I got offered the one I thought I had less chance of getting! I start next month and I can’t wait!

 

So there you go, my 2017. There have definitely been points this year when I’ve struggled to focus on the good. Often when you feel crap the bad outweighs the good. But this year has been good overall. Yes, it’s been stressful. Yes, I’m glad it’s almost over. 2018 is already looking up and I’m looking forward to the start of a new year.

I’d love to hear about your 2017 highlights.

 

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

Photograph taken by me.

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Photo of band Idlewild on stage with blue, white and pink lighting

Music is a big part of my life.

So much so that when I started chatting with Mark, one of my first questions was about what music he liked. And as bad as this sounds if he had (in my opinion) pish taste in music we probably wouldn’t have got to a first date!

Luckily for me, and him, his taste in music is good. And very similar to mine. Which is great because it means we never argue over what to listen to in the car. And we love going to gigs together. This year we weren’t meant to go to many gigs. It’s a luxury that really only people with jobs should have, and since I’ve spent most of the year unemployed I didn’t think we would be going to any. However, it ended up that was not the case and we’ve been to our fair share.

Here’s a rundown of our 2017 gigs:

Deftones – SEC Glasgow

Photo of band Deftones on stage with blue/white lighting

Our first gig of the year and I was so hungover! We also had to wait in the longest queue to get in. I enjoyed this gig, but I think Mark enjoyed it more. For me, I was more focused on getting some hangover food after it…

Idlewild – Hidden Door Festival, Leith Theatre Edinburgh

The Hidden Door Festival happens every year in Edinburgh. It’s a non-profit art festival which brings forgotten, abandoned places to life with art and live performances. We got some really last minute tickets to go and see Idlewild. It’s the first time I’ve been to Hidden Door festival and it was also the first time I’d seen Idlewild. The venue really made the night for me, I LOVE abandoned buildings. And although money is being raised to restore Leith Theatre it was very much still a building that had been neglected. It was a great gig from Idlewild, along with performances from Loud Poets and lots of art to see. Hidden Door festival is set to return to Leith Theatre for 2018.

Paramore – Usher Hall Edinburgh

This was my first gig in the Usher Hall, I was surprised how small the venue was on the inside. But this made it really nice and felt like you were at a much more intimate gig than you were. We were stood near the back and I could still see the stage really well. It was also the first time I’ve seen Paramore and they did not disappoint. Plus to make things even better they had Lauren from Chvrches join them on stage. A really fun gig with lots of energy. A band I would love to see again.

Metallica – Hydro Glasgow

Photo of band Metallica on stage with red lighting, cubes hanging from the ceiling with tv screens on them

My ears were ringing for days after this gig! It was amazing. The stage was set in the middle of the floor so people could stand all the way around it. The screens hanging from the ceiling were used well and the gig wasn’t just about the music it was a great performance. Of course, we got beer thrown over us and Metallica broke their curfew but this just added to the experience. Well worth the super expensive tickets and us not getting back home to Fife until almost 1 am.

Brand New – O2 Academy Glasgow – CANCELLED

I was so excited for this gig! I missed seeing Brand New in 2015 and although we saw them last year supporting Biffy it’s not the same as seeing them doing their own gig. Plus with their new album out this year, it was going to be great. We had booked a hotel in Glasgow for the night so we didn’t have to drive home after it which we kept despite the gig not happening. Instead, we saw the Christmas lights being switched on at George Square, went for pizza and beer and the cinema. Still a fun night.

Queens of the Stone Age – Usher Hall Edinburgh

Standing tickets sold out really fast for this so we were sitting for this gig. Normally I would prefer to be standing at a gig but I was pleased to have somewhere to put the one million layers I had to wear because of the cold! Apparently not the first time I’ve seen QOTSA (a bit of a thing with me…!), this is the first time I can remember and it was a great gig. I didn’t have to worry about not being able to see the stage and as well as the entertainment the band provided we got to see some drama happening. Like the guy getting chucked out by bouncers, and the crowd surfers getting hauled over the barrier at the front.

Idlewild – O2 ABC Glasgow

Last gig of the year and it was a good one. More often than not we’re not too bothered about the support acts but when we heard Scott Hutchison was one of them we made sure we got there to see him. Along with Scott was poet Michael Pedersen who was actually hilarious! I wouldn’t say that I’m a big fan of poetry but I really like his. Being early meant that we got a space right at the front! The gig was for the 15th anniversary of The Remote Part so along with other songs the band played the full album.

 

What gigs have you been to this year?

 

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.

Photos taken by me and M Richardson

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Yup, another month down!

Things were a wee bit quiet over here during September. As you may be able to see my wee blog got a bit of a make over. I moved from Blogger over to self-hosted WordPress and got a fancy new theme from Pipdig 🙂

And, when I say I moved over from Blogger, what I really mean is Mark moved my blog from Blogger over to WordPress. My contribution to it was getting the self hosting sorted and picking a theme I liked. Mark did everything else including moving all my content over from Blogger and making sure everything looked just how I wanted it. What a bloody champ! He is definitely a keeper (obvs for more than just his coding ability and never ending patience with me when I’m being a teeny bit demanding!).

Although things have been quiet on here while lots has been getting done in the background, Mark and I had a really fun, busy month! September is my birthday month, and this year it was a bit of a big one for me as entered Club 30 (eeeeeek!). As well as taking the day of my birthday off, Mark had a further two weeks off work for us to spend some time together.

My month kicked off with some mate dates though. Me and my bestie grabbed lunch and a really long overdue catch up at my favourite cake place EVER (Tea Jenny’s in Falkirk incase you were wondering)! Despite it being months since we’d seen each other, it always feels like it has been no time at all, she cracks me up and my face is always aching from so much laughing when we meet up! I also got to see her before she set off for a month long road trip round Europe with her husband. What an amazing way to celebrate turning 30 right?! I’m not at all jealous…

I also went to The Luna Cinema to see La La Land. It was a pretty cool experience, and the first time I’d been to an outdoor cinema. We had our blankets to sit on, thermos filled with tea, Tunnock’s Tea Cakes to munch, and because it’s Scotland our rain coats on. Just as well we did too, because it rained pretty much the whole time! Ryan Gosling more than made up for it though and the film was a lot better than I was expecting.

Then came the big 3-0…! Thankfully being 30 doesn’t mean I have to grow up, and this was perfectly demonstrated by the presents Mark got me – a Hello Kitty instax camera and backpack. We headed through to Edinburgh and got some froyo and a couple of drinks before I went to get my hair cut and then headed to my Mum’s for (what was meant to be) my birthday non-party…it was a full blown party! I can confirm that the hangovers don’t get better, there is no tolerance that is built up with age. The next day I felt rough, McDonalds Big Mac rough. And that night I was surprised with Mexican food with the friends group from Fife, I love Mexican food but the hangover was so bad I actually made my dinner choice based on the lack of cheese in the dish!

We kicked off the official start of Mark’s holidays with a trip to Wallace Monument, and it just so happened that we picked the day that was the 720th anniversary of the Battle of Stirling Bridge. There were reenactments throughout the day (which admittedly made me cringe slightly) and birds of prey. After managing to make it through about only ten minutes of the reenactment we headed up into the monument to climb the 246 steps to the top. Now that doesn’t sound like a lot but when there are people going both up and down in the a space that is definitely not big enough it really feels like a challenge to get up. The views across Stirling make it completely worth it though, although we didn’t stay at the top too long cause it was just a bit windy!

It was also Doors Open weekends during September. We headed through to Glasgow to see the Winter Gardens in Springburn, which involved a walk round Springburn Park while learning about the history of the place and the plans to restore the derelict Winter Gardens. As interesting as it was I can’t deny I was a little disappointed we didn’t actually get to go inside them, I have a thing with abandoned/derelict buildings.

Which brings me nicely onto the next thing – a trip to St Peter’s Seminary, an abandoned building that was used to teach people wanting to become priests. The brutalist architecture of the building is really something and the graffiti shows that despite lying unused and fenced off people have still managed to sneak in.

The weather when we were off was pretty disappointing, some may just call it Scottish, but we managed to pick the best day of the two weeks to bag another Munro – Cairn Gorm. It only took an hour and a half to get to the top but it was a pretty steep climb! It meant Munro number six for me, and three for Mark.

I got invited along to the Fresher Festival in Glasgow, a two day long event giving students everything they need for their uni experience. There were food stalls, people there from clubs and pubs, Glasgow Subway, glasses company Iolla and a VIP area hosted by Yada events. Seeing all the stalls related to alcohol reminded me just how much of being a student involved a lot of time in the pub!

The last weekend in the month Mark and I headed to Edinburgh to take part in Maggie’s Culture Crawl, a 10k walk round the city with access to buildings/parts of buildings you would otherwise not get in to. It was a fun experience and I will be writing a blog post all about it soon.

So there you have it, my mega busy September. How was your month?

 

 

All photos taken by me

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I feel like all months fly by but, man, August felt like a blur!

We went on holiday last month which probably helped it feel so quick.

After quitting my job at the end of July I really felt like I needed a bit of a break. Now, considering I’ve only worked in a proper full time job for three months this year a break might sound insane. But while I wasn’t working I was studying, job hunting and constantly stressing about my lack of job which is actually pretty tiring in itself!

So, I asked Mark to get time off work so we could go on holiday. I think it was needed by both of us! While I’ve been spending months stressing, Mark has had to put up with me. Not fun I’m sure! We had a few options for places to go, but we decided on Berlin. We had a great time, saw lots, ate so much food (I love German food) and drank a fair amount of beer. The history geek in me was loving the city! I’m still sorting out the photos from our trip but I will get a post all about it up soon.

August in Edinburgh is Festival month! The city is buzzing and there’s so much to see and do. Although I spent a fair bit of time in the city we only went to one show. I just love soaking up the atmosphere though. There’s always good foodie stuff going on at this time of year too and we had fun at the Festival Village: Waverley sampling some of the amazing food and drinks. I was all about the halloumi fries!

I spent more time at Business Gateway events last month, this time focusing on ones for starting your own business. We’re planning our next EBC event for December and in the process of setting up the business! Scary and exciting times! During the month we had a few team meet ups and meetings for the next workshop. We now have all our hosts secured which is awesome! This is going to be another amazing event (you can buy tickets here).

I feel like every month we end up with a trip to St Andrews. It’s one of my favourite places in Scotland and I feel really lucky to live so close. A trip to St Andrews was a proper day out from where I lived before, it took me a hour and a half to get there (so far I’ve had mini-holidays in St Andrews!!) and now it’s less than half an hour away. I love the quirky shops and Jannetta’s ice cream is always worth the wait in the queue on a sunny day! If you haven’t been St Andrews should definitely be on your list.

How was your August?

Photographs taken by me
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Your period, time of the month, Aunt Flo, monthly visitor, lady time, painters in, code red.

Whatever we call it I think we can all agree it’s (roughly) five days of the month that totally suck!

Personally, if given the choice I would stay in the house for the full five days, hot water bottle firmly on my tummy and blanket wrapped round me. Ok, so now imagine this was never an option for you, even for one day of your period. Imagine you didn’t have a sofa to curl up on, no kettle to fill a hot water bottle. Imagine being homeless and getting your period?! No access to sanitary products or even a shower to get clean. Doesn’t really bear thinking about does it.

Our lady time is no longer a subject we can’t talk about, and why should we keep quiet about it? A huge chunk of the population experiences a period every month. And our periods have hit the news recently for a couple of reasons, mainly because “tampon tax” has been a topic of conversation for some time now. The tax that is added to luxury items also applies to sanitary products. I think all women would agree that a tampon or sanitary towel is far from a luxury item! And also because of “period poverty”, this is when women are in the position of having to make a choice between sanitary items and other household essentials. But when it comes to the homeless we often forget about the need for sanitary products. There are women having to use the likes of toilet roll and old rags in place of tampons or sanitary towels!

Simon Community Scotland have just launched a new initiative aimed at helping women during their time of the month. Simon Community help over 500 women experiencing homelessness every year. Through their street team in Glasgow they reach out to women and provide gender specific assistance supporting women in getting their lives back on track and providing emergency accommodation. Yesterday (23.08.17) they launched Period Friendly Points (PFP) throughout Glasgow to support women to get through their time of month with dignity. Period Friendly Points are places specifically set up for the homeless although it is hoped that this is something that will extend to other locations and will include the likes of coffee shops. These PFP will have free sanitary products, pants, disposable bags, wipes to allow women to feel clean and information leaflets offering help with using the products. As well as the essential products to get women through this time of month, there are people available to talk to, whether it’s a question about Aunt Flo or just to have a chat. Many of these women have never spoken to anyone about their period, some don’t know how long a tampon should be kept in or even what a period actually is! As well as the PFP the street team will be handing out Period Friendly Pax. These are compact bags containing the essentials.

A five day period costs Simon Community and their suppliers £15. This is for five towels, twelve tampons, three pairs of pants, travel wipes and disposable bags. You can help by donating. You can also offer your time as the charity are always looking for volunteers to help with re-stocking the PFP, sorting out supplies and packing the Period Friendly Pax or even just lending an ear to women who visit PFP and need someone to talk to.

To donate text PFPR28 to 70070 with the amount you want to donate – £5 or £10.

And next time Aunt Flo pays a visit, think about how lucky you are to be able to snuggle up on the sofa under your blanket.

xxx
 
Image provided by Simon Community Scotland
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