Monday, 31 December 2018

2018 Best Bits

Last year I wrote a post called "2017 best bits" and it was one of my favourite posts of last year - instead of going through my goals for the year, I looked back on my best bits of the year, from the big (getting engaged! Buying a house! Finishing my marketing degree!), to the smaller (crying while watching Joshua Radin perform in Berlin).

While this year hasn't involved a house purchase, engagement or qualification, there are still so many things I want to look back on and remember from 2018.

So here are my highlights from the year...


I don't talk lots about my job here, but in July I was promoted and I'm really enjoying the challenges of my new-ish role! I've learned so much this year and have done so many things that I wouldn't have imagined I'd have been doing 12 months ago!

Two half marathons 

I've had a tough time with running and injuries over the last 18 months - I was disappointed with my Manchester Half Marathon time last year after struggling with injuries, and I was still suffering at this year's Great Manchester Run Half Marathon (plus it was absolutely baking hot so even if I had been fully fit a good time would have been out of the window!).

But over the summer I cautiously trained for my 7th half marathon, and along with hours of strengthening exercises and many trips to the physio, I felt okay for my third Manchester Half Marathon in October.

I wasn't sure what to expect and was trying to manage my expectations after injuries, but after 3 miles I realised if I kept up my pacing and ran negative splits I could hopefully, maybe manage another sub 2 hour.

The last mile felt 5 miles, but I crossed the finish line with another just-ducking-under-2-hours with a 1:59:41 finish time. I was absolutely over the moon. 

CIM results and graduation

At the end of last year I handed in my last piece of coursework for my Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma in Professional Marketing. I had a nervous wait until February when I started to convince myself I'd failed. My last module was by far my hardest but it turned out I passed with merit and got my best grade of all my modules!

It was so great last month to go down to London for my graduation ceremony with my parents and Phil and walk across the stage after all the hard work!

Wedding planning

Did I mention we're getting married?

It's crazy that last Christmas we weren't even engaged and by next year we'll have been married for 8 months!

We've done so much wedding planning this year! I absolutely hated wedding planning at first (okay, for like, the first 6 months) and just found the whole thing completely stressful, but eventually everything started to fall into place, we got over our decision fatigue and now I'm so excited!

We booked our venue in February, then I found my dress in May, we've booked pretty much everything now, including our honeymoon to Canada next September!, had a wonderful day with my bridesmaids picking their dress earlier in the month, plus had a few sneak peeks at our day with an overnight stay at our venue when it was one year to go, and a pre-wedding photoshoot with our amazing photographer!

It's all getting very real and very exciting!

Reading every day

I hit my Goodreads reading goal of 40 books for the year in July, and had hit double that by November. At the time of writing I've read 95 books this year - more than I read in 2017 and 2016 put together!

I have read a book every day this year - some days that's been one page, other days a whole book. I've read before work, on the way to work, on my lunch break, drying my hair, in supermarket queues, waiting for the bus - I've had a book with me at pretty much all times this year!

I'm going to write another post on the best books I read in 2018, but I've read some absolutely amazing books and I can't wait to see what I read in 2019!

House changes

I don't share a lot about our house because I think I'm always waiting for a room to be "finished" even though I know a room is never finished!

We started 2018 with bare walls in our living room and on the stairs and landing after spending 2 days between Christmas and New Year stripping off all the old textured wallpaper, and now we have a lovely fresh off-white across the rooms and a bright mustard feature wall in the living room that I love.

We also spent weeks in dust and dirt as we had new flooring put down in our living room, and had a week without a kitchen with a toaster and a microwave in the front room while we had our new kitchen fitted!

Our main living room is almost finished (we've bought a dining table, new chairs and a sofa - due in 6 weeks - this week!) and then on a whim in August we decided to paint our front room dark blue which I absolutely love (and I'll never get the paint off my slippers!).

There's a lot more I want to do on the house next year so we'll see!


I ran 43 parkruns in 2018, and volunteered twice, which means I only missed 7 parkruns over the year.

I've done 8 new-to-me parkruns this year too, and ran at 12 different parks.

I finally received my 100 parkruns tshirt and I ran my 150th parkrun in September. I'm looking forward to my 200th parkrun in 2019!

Relearning old skills

I started the year having not been behind the wheel properly for 7 years, but after a refresher driving lesson at the start of the year I've felt so much more confident and it's been great to be able to drive again!

I've also picked up the piano again, something I did not expect at the start of the year! I bought myself the La La Land piano book and I'm learning Mia and Sebastian's theme and it's been so fun to have a hobby without goals I'm working towards - it's just fun.

Hamilton + Bruges Birthday

Apart from my wedding, I had never been as excited for ANYTHING as I was to see Hamilton. After 14 months of waiting (we will have waited less time from booking our wedding until our wedding day) it was honestly the best thing I've ever seen in my life. I cried so much.

I am now even more obsessed with Hamilton (no, I didn't think it was possible either!) and I cannot wait to see it again!

Days out and trips

I've had so many good trips and days out this year! 

In April we went to see Jaws in Concert with a live orchestra, which was my present to Phil for Christmas last year and we saw The Killers in July which was absolutely incredible.

In June I took my first trip to Center Parcs with Phil's family which was so much fun.

But the highlight has to be doing The Crystal Maze for Phil's Dad's 60th in June. It was honestly one of the best things I've ever done in my last - I cannot recommend it more.

Self care

One of my goals for 2018 was to find what works for my anxiety, and I've done some really positive work this year. I completed 32 days of yoga in January and after rereading that blog post last week I signed up next January's 30 days too!

I've also really cut down on my social media usage this year. I was finding that Instagram and Facebook just weren't making me feel good! I deleted all social media apps off my phone in May and now only use them in browser (so sorry anyone who has ever tagged me in an Instagram story or sent me an Instagram message - I can't see them in Safari!), and more recently I've just been logged out of them and only check my notifications every few days. I almost never scroll through and I don't feel like I'm missing anything! It's made a huge difference in me not comparing myself to other people constantly.

Finally, I've just completed a year of HappyFeed. It's a super simple app, but it's been brilliant for me this year. Every day you put into it 3 happy things about that day. That's it. Some days are easy, some are MUCH harder. And then through the year you can look back, or shake it for a random day. I think I've only missed 5 days this year (and I am so mad about those 5 days!) and I'm looking forward to carrying on with it in 2019.

I've had a great 2018 and I am so (SO SO SO SO) excited for 2019!

Have an amazing new year and I'll see you in 2019!

Charlotte x

Monday, 3 December 2018

November Life Lately

So here is is, Merry Christmas! December is here!

I absolutely love December - Christmas is my favourite time of the year and this year we have our engagement anniversary to celebrate too on Boxing Day!

But enough about December, here's what I got up to in November...

What I did
As Phil and I were both brought up Catholic and are getting married in a Catholic church (it's actually the church my parents were married in!) we had to attend marriage classes which we did this month. It sounds a bit weird, but it actually made a lot of sense (I mean, it is a pretty big commitment!) and we actually found the parts about communication really useful!

In other wedding news, I picked up my wedding dress this month! I was so nervous! I was so scared I wouldn't fit or I wouldn't like it or it wouldn't look like I remembered, but it was amazing and beautiful and I fell in love with it all over again! I was in a pretty stressful place with wedding planning when I picked it, but going back with nearly everything sorted for the wedding and feeling so excited was amazing. It's so weird that it's just hanging at my Mum's house! I've got a few adjustments to have done in the new year but I can't believe it's mine and we have it!
On the same day as I picked up my dress, Phil and I went out to celebrate 5 years together! Our anniversary was actually the Thursday but we spent the evening of the day getting prepped for having friends over for dinner the following night. Five years feels both so long and so short - longer than all of high school!, a year longer than my whole degree!, but I also feel like I can barely remember my life before Phil. It really has been the best 5 years of my life so far.

Sorry, another wedding-related one - we went to look at wedding rings! I'm not sure if I talked a lot about my actual ring when we got engaged cause I was so thrilled and excited, but my ring was actually custom made. Phil made several trip to the ring man (unbeknown to me, of course, who was in the middle of studying for my marketing diploma!) and chose everything from the setting of the diamond to the style of the band to the diamond, so we knew we had to go back to discuss our wedding rings. I can now completely appreciate how hard it was for Phil to design a ring! I think we've chosen our rings now, but we're going back next month to finalise them. I can't wait for us to both have wedding rings!

Speaking of my marketing diploma, I had my graduation! It feels so long ago that I finished (I handed my last piece of coursework in a year last week!) but it was so good to actually celebrate graduating! Because I did my course through distance learning it was really nice to chat to other people who have done the course - I'd never had that while I studied - and I loved going down to London with my family and Phil and getting dressed up in my robes! No more degrees for me for a while now, okay?

So at some time in 2012, I started talking to Sarah on Twitter. Neither of us remembers when or how it happened, but over the last 6 years we have spoken at least every week, if not every day, and we decided this was the year we would finally meet up! So back in August we made plans and last month we booked our train tickets and met up in Birmingham. We had the absolute best day and we had even more in common than we had expected! It's so cool to have met properly in person and I hope we can meet up again soon!

Where I went

One of my work friends, Emily, was nominated for an award at the Manchester PA Network Awards at the start of the month, and I was thrilled when she invited me to come along. It was so nice getting dressed up and going to a proper awards ceremony - I was buzzing about the goodie bag!

Last year for our anniversary, Phil and I went to El Gato Negro in Manchester and it was honestly one of the best meals we'd ever had, so we really had to raise the bar for this year's anniversary. We do British Military Fitness in Bruntwood park and every time we're doing burpees in the cold or press ups in the mud we say, we should really go for a meal at the hotel in the park. And given it was a particularly special occasion, that's what we did! Oddfellows on the park was absolutely amazing - the food was incredible, the service was wonderful and we just had the best anniversary meal. And we got to dress up and get my parents' to take a photo of us and accidentally both wore the same jackets and did the same pose as we did on our one year anniversary 4 years ago.

One thing we really wanted to do while we were in London for my graduation was go to see The Clock exhibition at the Tate. Phil's auntie and uncle could not have recommended it more when they went to see it, and as film fans we were instantly sold. We queued for about an hour, and managed to catch it between 5pm and 6pm. I didn't want to leave! I wish so much we'd had more time - if it ever comes to Manchester I think I'd do a full day. Honestly, if you're in London before it closes, make sure you catch it. It's brilliant.

Finally, this month, my cousin took me along on her birthday trip to see Kinky Boots on Friday and it was so much fun!

What I read
8 books read this month! I'm thrilled that this month I doubled my reading goal of 40 books and read my 80th book of the year. 

Here's what I read this month:

Since we Fell
The Bus on Thursday
The House of Impossible Beauties
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Convenience Store Woman
The Future Won't be Long
I am, I am, I am

This was a bit of a mixed bag. It was the first time pretty much all year that I ran down all my library returns so I was struck with serious decision fatigue! Two of these books I really didn't enjoy and unfortunately read them in a row (thankfully quickly!), but I really loved The House of Impossible Beauties, Convenience Store Woman, and I am, I am, I am  was amazing and made me cry.

What I watched
Not a big watching month November. Only one cinema trip to see Widows, which I loved, and Phil did not.

At home we watched Susperia, Life Animated and Insomnia.

And then we finished The Haunting of Hill House and I cried and seriously I am bereft. The best thing I've watched in months, if not years. I am still sad it's over.

What I bought
I love Felicity Cloake's Perfect columns in the Guardian, so as soon as I found out about her book Completely Perfect I raced down to Waterstones! It's a collect of some of her best "perfect" recipes, from poached eggs to brownies to hollandaise sauce. So far I've only made a few things but it's a brilliant reference and a book I'm finding myself picking up and browsing regularly.

Oh and I bought the brightest of bright pink jumpers after wanting it last year from Oasis and finding it on Depop for £15. Needless say, this got a LOT of comments at work.

What I loved
Last moth I caved and bought the Mowgli Street Food book because I love the restaurant so much (I took Sarah when we were in Birmingham!) and I'm so glad I did because everything has been amazing! The Mowgli paneer in particular is incredible and having tried the green rhubard dal in the restaurant I really want to give that I go.

Daisy Buchanan is one of my favourite writers, so I was really excited when I found out she was releasing a podcast, and I was even more excited when I found out it was about books!

I always say I was raised on country music as my parents listened to the country music channel constantly throughout my childhood, so when I do listen to country music I tend to stick to my 90s favourites. But I've got Phil listening to country and he's got me into more modern country and now it's all I listen to! I absolutely love using Spotify to find loads of new-to-me country artists!

What I read online
Grazia - Some women can't afford to exercise and telling them they're lazy is not okay
The Pool - What is the point of a body that looks good but can't do anything?
The Pool - How to stop being busy (and get more done)
The Pool - When your social life is booked months in advance, it's time to take radical action
The Guardian - Why we need difficult books
Vulture - How scary is The Haunting of Hill House really?
Buzzfeed - Girl, wash your face is a massive best seller with a dark message
Lauren Bravo - Thoughts on becoming
The Guardian - Why there's no such thing as the perfect vegan
Yes and Yes - Everything is socially contagious (and what to do about it)
Yes and Yes - How to be more self aware of your knee-jerk bad habits
Thrillist - I found the best burger place in America. Then I killed it
Andie Mitchell - How I felt after having James
Be more with Less - A Toast to the tiny steps
Lauren Bravo - An open letter to my online shopping parcel
Vogue - How to be thankful (when it feels like the rest of the world is going crazy)
This Twitter thread
The Pool - I changed my antidepressants. This is what happened next
The Pool - Do you care too much about what other people think?
Glamour - Why I'm never cooking dinner for a man again after my divorce

I'll be back in the next few weeks with my yearly round ups and reviews - I'm weighing up a separate post to talk about all the books I read and loved this year too!

Charlotte x