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.

Follow:

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

Follow:

June ended up being a really busy month!

I started a new job after four months of being redundant and it was the month of Edinburgh Blogger Conference. That meant going out to do a 9-5, learning new things (which always hurts your head) and coming home and working on conference stuff. Crazy.

It was strange going back out to work, I’m not going to lie. After being able to completely suit myself, go to the gym, eat nice breakfasts or, you know, stay in my pjs until midday it was a bit of an adjustment. But one that I needed. I was starting to feel really down at the lack of purpose to get up and go everyday, not to mention the lack of money! Being supported is not something I seem to be able to do easily.

I did a lot of learning during June, learning new stuff on the job but I also attended a lot of Business Gateway courses on marketing and all the social media channels. I use social media a lot, a common thing it seems with pretty much all millennials, but using it to post pictures of my daily outfits, coffee trips or my meals is a bit different from using social media in a business setting. The Business Gateway courses are amazing, and FREE! They’re for business owners but you can also go along even if you haven’t started trading yet so it is definitely something to take advantage of. I’ve already myself booked into some for Edinburgh Blogger Conference and starting up a business as they help with all of that too.

The weekends leading up to the conference on 17th June were really all about getting ready for it, I roped my Mum in to helping us pack goodie bags the weekend before and Mark was involved with getting everything to the venue and loading my Mini up with more bottles of water and cans of juice than I think I’ve ever bought. Luckily my new boss was pretty flexible and let me have a few days off around the weekend of the conference so I could run about picking up printing and last minute things we needed.

The weekend of the first Edinburgh Blogger Conference came round so quickly and the day was a bit of a surreal blur. It went incredibly smoothly, and not to blow my own trumpet too much, I think this was really down to the hard work that we put in as a team. I think I’ve really found the dream team, two other bloggers who I get along with and work well together. What more could you ask for! I posted about the day earlier in the week, you can read my post here.

I left the conference on the Saturday evening and was straight to meet my friend to head down to Dumfries to do Tough Mudder on the Sunday. Honestly at this point I was thinking I was mad, and had completely overestimated my ability to keep going for the full weekend. My adrenaline had started to run out and I was staying in a house with a group of people I didn’t really know that well. We got up nice and early on the Sunday and piled in the cars to head to the starting line. I was nervous as hell, as a first timer I had no idea what was really in store for me or if I would be able to do it. I’m going to write a full post all about my experience and why I loved it so much, but for now all I’ll say is it’s one of the best things I’ve done, despite being caked in mud and getting electrocuted…!

I had planned on staying the Sunday night in Dumfries too but I was done after Tough Mudder so caught a lift back to Edinburgh with one of the guys from my team and met Mark, where we went to get Krispy Kreme doughnuts to replenish some of my burnt calories from the morning. It meant I got to sleep in my own bed and I also got a nice leg massage from Mark which was amazing as I could walk the next day! 🙂 It was also good because we both had the Monday off work so we headed to St Andrews for a bit and had a nice wee walk and look round the shops.

Last month also went to our third gig of the year – Paramore at the Usher Hall. It was the first time I’ve seen Paramore and the first time I’ve been in the Usher Hall. I’m pleased to say that because of the awful incident in Manchester in May venues have really clamped down on security which made me feel safer. Paramore were incredible! And the Usher Hall was a great venue for them, it was quite small so it felt a bit more intimate and even though we were at the back you could still see the stage. And to make it even better when Hayley got one of the crowd up to sing, Lauren from Chvrches came on stage too! Amazing.

How was your June?

xxx
 
Photographs taken by me (except Tough Mudder team photo…that was taken by a passer-by at the event).
Follow:

 

Burgers are one my favourite foods to eat when I’m out for dinner.

I think it’s because it’s one of the things that’s possibly a bit more expensive to make yourself at home (you need a good bit of steak mince, if you want a slice of bacon on top then you’re generally going to have to buy a whole pack of the stuff, a block of some nice cheese…). When you eat burgers in a restaurant though sometimes there are so many options it makes it hard to decide what you want!

This was absolutely the case at Burgers & Beers. If you don’t know about this restaurant in Edinburgh, it’s on the Royal Mile, and does pretty much what it says on the tin, well… above the door at least! The majority of the menu is made up of burgers and beer but if burgers are not your thang (what is wrong with you?!) there are other options on the menu.

It seriously took me a while to decide which burger I wanted, plus Mark and I had to discuss to make sure we weren’t getting the same one (we like to have a taste of each other’s food). In the end I settled on the Frying Scotsman, haggis, onion rings and Scottish cheddar cheese, don’t mind if I do! Mark went for the Mac Attack, and yes that does mean mac n cheese on top of a burger! When you order a burger all you’re getting is the burger so you need to order fries on the side. There’s a lot of eating in the burgers so one portion of fries is definitely enough for two people.

So onto the food. I had to take the onion rings out the burger before I started eating it, I don’t have the ability to unhinge my jaw, but even at that I still had to use a knife and fork for some of the eating process! The burger was tasty, had just the right amount of cheese and the haggis fritter was a great add on. The haggis comes in batter but it’s not too heavy so you’re not completely stuffed half through your food. They’ve even nailed it with the bun. There is nothing worse than eating a burger while the bread is turning to mush during the process, not an issue with the glazed bun.

Mark’s burger was also ridiculously tasty. The mac n cheese comes in fritter form too and also has bacon on it, I’m pretty sure this one was calorie free…ha! There was also a bit of greenery on this burger and beer mustard. Yum! The side order of sweet potato fries went down a treat, but even with us sharing a side I still couldn’t finish all my food!

I haven’t even covered the beer menu. You won’t be short of choice, you can find a great selection of Scottish beers along with some imported beers. For those of you who don’t like beer though, check out the cocktail menu!

Burgers & Beers is now one of my firm favourites in Edinburgh, it’s safe to say we’ll be back.

xxx
 
Photograph taken by me
Follow:

Another month down!

Can you believe we’re into June already?! I mean, there are only twenty-nine Fridays until Christmas 2017 (sorry!)!!

May flew in for me. Mark and I had lots of fun days out, he took some days off work to keep me company as I was still technically unemployed last month.

At the start of the month we went to see Deftones at the SECC in Glasgow. Any gig we go to in Glasgow usually involves some form of yummy dinner beforehand. Our favourite is one of the best Glasgow has to offer (well, in our opinion), the pizza and beer selection that Bier Halle has always calls to us. 2 for 1 pizzas and more beer on the menu than you could get through in one visit! Usually we pick two pizzas we both like and share, our choices this time were black pudding & fried egg and Hawaiian. I was nursing a hangover this day that even beer and pizza couldn’t cure, so standing for about 3 hours at the gig was not ideal for me! But I still had fun.

Mark took the May Day bank holiday off work and we decided to take advantage of the sunshine and go for a walk and a picnic. Not just any picnic, we got M&S food (they have some great picnic choices in their Spirit of Summer selection). Having lived in Scotland all my life I should know that sunshine does not equal warmth…I ate my picnic sporting Mark’s woolly hat!

Having a boyfriend that is a beer geek means much time spent in beer shops and if there is any sort of beer event on we will try to be there. I’m partial to a beer or two myself so happy to go along too. When we saw FestivAle advertised at Summerhall in Edinburgh we swiftly got ourselves some tickets. Local beer shop Cork and Cask had a bottle bar, along with different breweries including Brewdog, St Andrews Brewing Co. and Barney’s (brewed at Summerhall). I’ve only recently started drinking gin and Pickerings Gin (distilled at Summerhall) was there too. I absolutely loved their original gin with ginger ale – yum! Along with good beer and gin the food was pretty tasty, I was not that happy sharing my halloumi fries…

There was some nice weather to hit Scotland in May. Not having to go to work meant that I was getting the opportunity to enjoy it and catch up with some friends. I also got to explore a bit more of the Kingdom I live in when I met friends and their wee boy in Aberdour for lunch and a wander along the beach. I think I still have lots of places to explore in Fife but this was another one ticked off.

We got some very last minute tickets to the Hidden Door Festival at Leith Theatre. There was art to check out, street food, bands, a speakeasy where Loud Poets performed, and the main attraction for us was Idlewild. Leith Theatre closed in 1988 and last month was the first time it opened it’s doors to the public since then. It has in no way been restored to it’s original state, but honestly this added to the charm for me. I have a bit of a thing with abandoned, decaying buildings. It is however a gem of a venue and it’s such a shame it hasn’t been getting used. Plans are in place to bring this great space back to it’s former glory, find out how you can help here.

A rainy bank holiday at the end of the month in St Andrews was a great way to spend a day off together. When we got in the car we didn’t know where we were going and I was given the choice of what direction we drove at junctions and roundabouts. It just so happened we ended up in one of my favourite places (I’m rubbish at directions so it was in no way intentional). Even rain in St Andrews doesn’t ruin your day, there are so many shops to look in (including beer shops) and cafes and bars we were easily entertained for the day.

How was everyone else’s May, did you get the chance to take advantage of some of our great weather?

xxx
 
Photographs taken by me & M Richardson, created using Layout
Follow: