Tuesday, 31 December 2019

2019 Best Bits

I had 4 goals for 2019:

  • Get married
  • Run my 200th parkrun
  • Drive on the motorway
  • Read 50 books.
Here how I got on with these goals:

  • Get married
Yep absolutely smashed that one. Threw a pretty bloody good wedding (even if I do say so myself!), had the best day of my whole entire life, married the best man I've ever met and have found that being married is the best thing ever.

  • Run my 200th parkrun
Smashed that one too. At the time of writing, thanks to a bonus Christmas Day parkun I'm currently on 212 parkruns (with the New Year's Day double taking me to 214 this week), so my 250 tshirt is just around the corner.

  • Drive on the motorway
Right only did this twice, but I do now drive on the dual carriageway to and from work every single day which is something that would have put the fear of god in me even only 6 months ago.

  • Read 50 books.
I finished the year having read 102 books. So yeah, did that one.

2019 was the best year of my life. I started the year as Miss Charlotte Crowley and ended it as Mrs Charlotte Cantillon. I started the year as a CRM Lead and finished it as a CRM Manager. I went on the most amazing trip of my entire life. I was thrown two incredible hen parties. We executed our dream wedding. And there have been so many tiny, wonderful moments along the way.

So like the last couple of years, I'm going to do a 2019 best bits (though I feel like I might have given away a few spoilers...)

2019 best bits

Getting married!!!!!!!

Oh did I mention we got married? Yeah we got married! 

I wasn't exactly quiet about how much I did not enjoy planning my wedding. The first 3 months of the year was consumed with ironing out tiny details (I am not a detail person), last minute checks and admin and averting disaster, but when the day finally came it was beyond my wildest dreams. It was absolutely beyond perfect.

My mouth hurt from smiling all day, we were surrounded by everyone we loved, everything went according to plan. The speeches made us laugh and cry and I danced to our perfectly-chosen songs until 1am, even though my feet had started hurting at 10pm. 

I don't get sad when I look back (though I do feel a bit relieved I don't have any more wedding admin to do!), I just feel so warm and fuzzy and happy that it happened. 

The year of our wedding was always going to be amazing but I'm not sure I was prepared for how incredible it was.

Our incredible honeymoon to Canada

We always knew our trip to Canada was going to be amazing - we knew from the moment we started looking at catalogues and choosing our destinations. We spent over a year planning it, from the day trips to the day-to-day activities. We looked at hundreds of photos, watched dozens of YouTube videos.  But I don't think anything prepared us for how unbelieavable it actually was.

We crammed so much into our trip it felt like 3 or 4 holidays in one. It was the first time we'd done a 2 week holiday together, and for both of us it was our first 2 week holidays in years, so it felt like a proper break. After months of wedding planning and stress and comedown, it was exactly what we needed.

Banff was the most beautiful place I've ever been to in my life. We climbed mountains, we canoed on lakes, we got up at 4am to see Moraine Lake at sunrise. We saw bears, we took a boat under Niagara Falls, we went to Toronto Film Festival, we drove hundreds of miles. We went to the coolest bars and ate the best street food and walked for miles and miles and miles. We got back absolutely exhausted in the best kind of way.

We don't have many holidays coming up (though I can't wait for my 30th Birthday trip to Barcelona) but it's going to be a tough one to beat our trip to Canada.

New job

While I knew our wedding and honeymoon were going to be happening in 2019, I didn't expect to be ending the year writing about a new job.

I joined MAG-O (Manchester Airport Group Online) in November as CRM Manager and I absolutely love it. Leaving Stagecoach after 3 and a half years was a huge and scary decision, but ultimately I feel like it was the right one and I'm really excited for my career and my future at MAG-O!

House stuff

Like last year, we've been slowly chipping away at decorating our house throughout 2019 and now I think the downstairs of the house is pretty much done! We've bought a new sofa for the living room, had new carpets fitted, bought new bits of furniture and with the exception of a new sofa for the front room I think we are pretty much there! There are still so many things we want to do with the upstairs of our house, but it's a work in progress and I'm really proud of the work we've done this year.

Hen Parties

My weekend away to Bristol was one of the best weekends of my life, and they did an amazing job of planning me the most perfect surprise hen - complete with parkrun (of course!), a secret bar, a treausure hunt, an escape room, 90s music, party games and a cookie with my husband's face on it!

We also had the best night ever with my aunties and cousins at Crazy Wendy's where my hens also organised the best games and ice breakers and we danced on the tables all night!

Minimoon and other UK trips

On the Monday after we got married, we headed down for a lovely few days in the Cotswolds. We had two nights in gorgeous Broadway, then spent the rest of the week around the Cotswolds, Cheltenham and Gloucester. We were blessed with the most amazing weather and it was such a lovely week.

We also had the best weekend in Newcastle thanks to a corporate trip to see Liverpool as a wedding present, where we also explored Newcastle castle, ticked another parkrun off the list and visited Fountain's Abbey on the way home. 

We also had a few trips to visit friends this year - Norfolk for Phil's friends' 30th Birthday and Milton Keynes for a wedding which included a trip to Bletchley Park. We've done lots of parkrun tourism this year! Speaking of...


I've had an excellent year of parkrunning in 2019! In the whole year I only missed 5 runs (one being my wedding day and one being my honeymoon!) and with a few special events I've finished the year having completed 49 runs in 2019 (yes, it's driving my mad I haven't hit "gold level obsessive" of 50 in 2019 - hopefully in 2020!). 

I ran my 200th parkrun in October, celebrated 6 years of parkrunning in August and ran my 100th Bramhall parkrun in September.

I ran at 12 different parks in 2019, including 8 new-to-me parks and my first International parkrun on our honeymoon in Canada.

I got 6 PBs this year including my first PB at Bramhall in over 2 years! I got within 6 seconds of my all-time PB in 2019 and I'm determined to get there in 2020!

I ran parkrun on my Birthday for the first time (it finally fell on a Saturday!), ran our first New Year's Day parkrun (soon to be running our first New Year's Day double!) and our first Christmas Day parkrun - which I hope will become our annual tradition.

49 parkruns in 2019 means I ran 6 more than in 2017 and 2018 too!

Reading every day (2 years in a row!)

A post shared by Charlotte Cantillon (@girlnextdoorfashion) on
I have now read every single day for over 2 years - and yes, I did manage a couple of pages the morning of my wedding! I read 102 books in 2019 - which was more than double my goal of 50!

I've got a blog post coming up of my favourite books in 2019, so keep your eyes out for that.

One second every day of the year!

After Phil did it in 2018, I started One Second Every Day on the 1 Jan 2019 and managed to remember to record a video every single day of the year! I was sure I would forget but somehow managed to remember every day and I'm so happy to have a whole year of seconds to look back on.

You can see all my monthly videos on my Instagram, and I'll share my full year tomorrow!

Other highlights

2019 had loads of other brilliant highlights - celebrating Phil's 30th Birthday in March with a Virgil van Dijk cake topper, Liverpool winning the Champion's League and going to the city for the parade, Buckle and Boots festival where we danced all day and night to country music, lots of lovely weddings, hosting our first Christmas dinner and going to see one of my heros, Margaret Atwood, speak at the Lowry.

On to 2020!

2019 has been the most amazing year of my life and I'm so sad it's over, but 2020 will bring my 30th Birthday, our first wedding anniversary and lots of other fun along the way. Looking back on 2019, a year feels so long (it feels forever ago that we got married!) so I'm sure there will be loads happening in 2020, and I'm sure I'll definitely blog about all of it!

Thanks to everyone who read my blog in 2019 - on to 2020!

Charlotte x

Thursday, 5 December 2019

November Life Lately


Well, it's December at least!

My tree is going up at the weekend (more on that below), my Christmas jumper is coming out and I'm working through my Makeup Revolution advent calendar (thanks Mum!).

I have so many blog posts I want to get done before the end of the year, including my year in review, favourites of the year and... my ten years of blogging anniversary!

So without further ado, here's what I got up to in November.

(And here's my one second every day of the month)

What I did

So, as I mentioned last month, November meant a new job! My last day at Stagecoach was wonderful and awful and sad and amazing all at the same time! My team decorated an entire meeting room for me and got everyone in while I opened my presents. The commercial director and head of marketing both said a few words about me and I obviously cried! I got some absolutely amazing gifts, from a bus Christmas tree decoration to a trip to go cuddle alpacas, to a beautiful Pandora necklace to a box full of Stagecoach merchandise! I had a wonderful turn out to my leaving drinks and I felt so proud to have worked with such an amazing team. I was incredibly sad to leave but so happy to have made such amazing friends and had so many wonderful opportunities.

And then of course, when one door closes, another one opens and I started my new job as CRM manager at Manchester Airport Group on the 18th November! I can't believe it's only been 3 weeks as I already feel so settled already. I work with an absolutely brilliant team and I'm really loving it. And I can see planes from my desk (bonus!).

With starting a new job we'd kept November pretty quiet, which meant we had a little bit more time for spontaneity (I know! Us? Spontaneous?!). We've had a couple of date nights, friends over for board game night and evenings out this month which has been really lovely. 

We've also used a lot of our spare time on stuff for our house. Yes, we've been in here over 2 years but we've been really taking our time with things and now the wedding and honeymoon are over we've had a bit more headspace to get things done. We've ordered new carpets which are coming on Friday (and then we can put up our tree!), we've been sorting out some bits of painting, reorganised the kitchen, had a big trip to IKEA and we've asked for a new TV cabinet for the living room and a fireplace for the front room for Christmas. It feels like we're nearly there now with the downstairs of our house! I can't wait to spend a bit more time in the front room now the winter is here - it's such a cosy space with a lovely bay window where we have our Christmas tree, and I know it will be so nice once the new carpet is in this week (and maybe a new sofa in the new year...)

Where I've been
The 8th November marked mine and Phil's 6 year anniversary and he's just about letting me celebrate our "dating" anniversary as well as our wedding anniversary (and our engagement anniversary...). We got off to a great start in the morning by getting each other exactly the same anniversary card...
We had booked a celebratory meal at the Oddfellows on the Park. This is actually where we went out for our anniversary meal last year, but for Phil's 30th my parents got him a voucher for the tasting menu with a wine flight, so we thought our anniversary would be the perfect opportunity to use the voucher.

The food there was amazing last year but I cannot recommend the tasting menu more. Each course was absolutely exquisite, incredibly interesting and a bit fun. Phil had the classic menu and I had the vegetarian option. The staff were brilliant, explaining every course and every wine, and we had such a brilliant time. Don't be fooled by the thought of a tasting menu - we were so stuffed by the end we couldn't finish our (second!) dessert! They change the menu every season so I'm tempted to go again next year again (I'm still thinking about that celeriac and truffle soup...).

We had another evening out in November to a gig with two of our best friends, Meg and Si. We'd seen Glass Caves busking in Manchester city centre years and years ago, and when Si was booking tickets for the gig saw I liked the band on Facebook and asked if we wanted to come along. The band were brilliant and we had such a good time!

What I read

Eight books read this month:

The Last Girlfriend on Earth
The Exorcist
Dark Matter
The Truth and Other Lies
Miller's Valley
One True Thing
Starve Acre

I thought I would struggle to keep up with reading this month as I drive to work now and lose my lovely 20 minute bus journey commute each way, but I've been really trying to make time for reading in the mornings and evenings to make up for it.

My favourite book this month was The Last Girlfriend on Earth which my friend Alex lent to me. I devoured the whole thing in a working day I loved it so much. I also absolutely loved Miller's Valley, which led me to One True Thing, both by Anna Quindlen. For horror I finally read The Exorcist, and I'd been so excited to read Starve Acre and Changeling and they did not disappoint!

What I watched

Two cinema trips this month to see Doctor Sleep and Knives Out which were both brilliant. I'm a huuuuuuge fan of The Shining and I was over the moon when I found out Mike Flannagan was directing Doctor Sleep as The Haunting of Hill House is one of my favourite TV shows ever. I loved Doctor Sleep so much and have been surprised by how much I keep thinking about it!

At home this month we've watched:
In the Mood for Love
Spirited Away
Paddington 1 and 2
12 Angry Men
Muppet Christmas Carol

I feel like most people know this by 12 Angry Men really is a masterpiece! I also picked up both the Paddington films the day before starting my new job and we watched them both on a Sunday afternoon. Oh and I saw Muppet Christmas Carol for the first time after being terrified of it as a kid (it was great, but the ghost of Christmas future is still terrifying).

What I've listened to

After enjoying Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test last month, this month I listened to So You've Been Publicly Shamed. I've also recently gotten into The High Low podcast and have been listening to the last year's worth of episodes on my drive and it is exactly my cup of tea!

Other things I loved

I'm not super into beauty or hair, but I have picked up a couple of great things this month. I am a bit obsessed with my hair and mostly how long it takes to dry, so I picked up one of those towel turban things for a fiver from Asda and I've been shoving my hair straight in that when wet and leaving it for 20 minutes to dry while I do my makeup and/or read rather than rubbing it to death with a towel straight out of the shower. My hair maybe hasn't dried much quicker but it definitely feels less frizzy and softer which I really like.

I also picked up some reusable cotton pads after someone was talking about them on twitter. I usually get through a couple of pads a night and these are so big I can use one for both my mircellar water and my toner, and then they just go in a bag and into the washing machine. Bargain!

What I read online

The Guardian - How we fell in love with sweet potatoes - yes this is a long read about sweet potatoes and yes that might be my wheelhouse
Unusual Efforts - Andre Gomes and displays of male love
Buzzfeed - 27 Doctor Sleep Making-of Facts
The Atlantic - Stop trying to raise successful kids
Writing Between Pauses - 5 Things I've learned about being resilient
A Cup of Jo - 15 things I wish someone had told me when I started cooking
Huffington Post - Having kids later in life isn't selfish
The Guardian - Why am I happy to spend £20 on four pints of beer but not on a bottle of wine? - this whole concept of money and emotion is absolute fascinating to me
Self.com - When I speak out about fat shaming I'm told "just lose weight"
Yes and Yes - The trap of the overly virtuous lunch (and how to avoid it)
Buzzfeed - 28 pieces of advice people learned from therapy

Hope you are feeling fantasically festive and having a wonderful December!

Charlotte x