REFLECTING ON 2017: MY TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS

Well hello there! Remember me? I did say I was going to be very bad at blogging this semester, but I’ve come out of my Masters-hibernation to write this reflection because I absolutely love reading other bloggers’ posts about their yearly highlights, and I really enjoyed writing one last year for 2016, which you can read here.

2017 has been one hell of a year, starting out living in the southern hemisphere all the way in Australia, and ending it back home in Manchester. It was hard to narrow down the list to just 10 favourite moments and I could have rambled on forever about each and every one, but somehow I managed it, so sit back and enjoy my brief highlights from 2017 before we welcome in the New Year.

Getting onto/Starting my Masters degree
Both of these go hand in hand really, as getting onto the course in the first place was such a big achievement for me. I’m one of 18 who got accepted onto it and couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to be suffering doing it with. It’s a really intense and difficult course and everyone is so supportive of each other and we’ve all become super close (I guess mutual stress and pain brings people together???). I don’t think I’ve ever said on the blog what my course actually is, just that I’m doing one and that it’s the most stressful thing I’ve ever experienced… Either way my MSc is in (take a breath) Neuroimaging for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience.

Au pairing
I wrote a post a few months ago about au pairing, and it is definitely one of my top highlights of 2017. I grew a lot as a person over those seven months, and it taught me that I can actually be a responsible adult when needed, and I’m capable of much more than I thought. Not only that, but I became so attached to Poppy and can’t imagine my Australian adventure without her.

Road trip through the outback
14 hours… 14 hours we drove from Orange to Adelaide, and was it worth it? Hell to the yeah it was worth it! I saw my first wild kangaroo, took pit stops in some proper rural towns, and got to visit my friend Toby in Mildura while he was completing his farm work. I also got photos at the NSW-Victoria, Victoria-South Australia, and South Australia-NSW borders which were such tourist moments but hey, it’s what I was there for.

Adelaide Fringe Festival
The Garden of Unearthly Delights was undoubtedly one of the most, dare I say it, instagrammable places I’ve ever been to. It was an incredible display of weird and wonderful lights and decorations, and pop-up bars and stalls had been derived from all sorts of things such as buses (yes, buses) and big-top tents.

Melbourne trip
Ah, Melbourne. Although Sydney was the place I called home, Melbourne is the city that holds my heart. Back in April I took a week-long holiday there and stayed with my Aussie friend, Issy. She took me to an AFL game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which I enjoyed a lot more than I expected, introduced me to a cafe dedicated entirely to bagels, and we road tripped along the Great Ocean Road. Her family were nothing but kind to me throughout my stay, and I’m so grateful for their hospitality that week. My friend Josh also took me on a tour of the city that included Hosier Lane, which was so cool, and I reunited with some friends I met in Sydney that I hadn’t seen in a while. At a time where I had been quite homesick this trip really cheered me up because, where Sydney is more like London, Melbourne is basically Manchester but with better food and better weather.

Boomtown
In August I experienced my first proper festival, and what an insane 5 days it was. Everyone I spoke to whilst there mentioned that I had picked an intense festival to start with, and, well, they weren’t wrong. Boomtown Fair is basically another city in itself, with different sectors and districts divided into Uptown and Downtown. Each year provides another chapter of its ongoing story, and there are actors all around the site playing out theatrical roles that make you feel like you’re actually living in this spectacular, made-up world. Another highlight from it was that I got to see Skindred live, who I’ve been a fan of since I was 15, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.

Glasgow Pride
During our annual visit to see the fam, Mum and I went to Glasgow Pride in the city centre, and it was nothing short of fabulous. Whether you were in the parade itself or just a spectator like we were, the whole day had a great atmosphere to it and I know we’ll be doing it all again next year.

Getting a job
After getting onto my MSc, my biggest worry was how I was going to fund my living expenses for the year, as my tuition fees take up my whole postgraduate loan. At the end of August though I got offered a part time job working for my University and I absolutely love it. Although working 20 hours a week alongside a full-time Masters is bloody stressful, I’ve never had a day where I’ve woken up dreading going to work, and I know that if I survive the next two semesters doing both then I’ll be a stronger person with a crackin’ CV.

Getting a car
I’m so in love with my Mini and extremely grateful for it. It’s improved my social life so much because I can just drive round to friends’ house without having to worry about walking around Fallowfield alone at night, and because I don’t drink I can drive to our local pub to hang out with my fave surf pals when they make last minute plans.

Tenerife and falling in love with surfing again
Although I vowed that I would never spend another Christmas in the sun, this year I spent it in Tenerife with my Mum. I’m so glad I went, not only because it was a nice break from the freezing cold English weather, but also because as part of my Christmas my Mum paid for me to do a surf school while we were there. I started surfing two years now but since the UMSC 2016 trip to Fuerteventura I’ve only been doing it every so often. Even in Australia I only surfed a couple of times, so I’ve not really improved much since I started. I also get quite anxious before getting in the water because my upper-body strength is basically non-existent and I always fall behind the group when trying to paddle out. Cue Tenerife and Kontraola Surf School! I spent the majority of my holiday in the water with the most amazing and supportive instructors who will always hold a special place in my heart. Surprisingly I was fine with paddling out back and over those two weeks I improved so much, with Miguel and Victoria teaching me how to turn properly and almost cutback (read: try to cutback but wipe out on rocks). I injured myself a lot over the week but hey, no pain no gain, right? I feel like I really needed that trip to make me fall in love with surfing again and get my confidence back up in the water, and now I’m sure as hell ready for Portugal in April with UMSC.

 

So there you have it, my top 10 highlights of 2017! I understand it’s quite a lengthy list, especially the last highlight, but amongst all the negative things that might have happened throughout the year it’s important to focus more attention on the good, and to continue doing so in 2018.

 

Until next year!

Liv

xo

BIRTHDAY DINNER @ HOME SWEET HOME, MANCHESTER

For the past four years, with the exception of last year because I was on the other side of the world, I’ve spent my birthday with my friend Taylor. Although a group of us were already going to Junkyard Golf on the Saturday to celebrate my birthday properly (because working life restricts mid-week drinking), I wanted to at least go out for food on the actual day. So this year when Tay asked where I wanted to go for dinner, my word-for-word response was “somewhere instagrammable”. I know, I’m ashamed of me too…

So with that in mind we chose Home Sweet Home in Manchester’s Great Northern area. I had walked past this place before and remembered stopping to drool over the cake display, whilst making a mental note to eat there asap.

The dinner menu had just started when we arrived, so I ordered the ‘Chicken in the Basket’ and Tay opted for the ‘Pulled Pork Pile Up’. It was definitely a filling dish and so tasty (I looove me some good chicken), but from the moment we walked in my eyes were on the dessert menu.

These cakes make you gain weight just by looking at them, but it was my birthday so yolo, and you certainly get your money’s worth when you buy a slice (read: 10lb chunk). I knew I wanted to try ‘Honey I Robbed the Kids’ as soon as I laid eyes on it, covered in bright blue icing and topped like a Woolworths’ pick n’ mix section, my out-of-control sweet tooth was more than satisfied. I had to take half of it home in a box because I couldn’t finish the whole slice in one go, so imagine my happiness when I opened the fridge the next morning and ate it for breakfast!

I’m so glad Taylor suggested we go out for the afternoon, and I know my relationship with Home Sweet Home will be like a revolving door (I give it a week until I’m back in there ploughing my way through the breakfast and lunch menus). So if you’re looking for a diner-like place to eat in Manchester and can’t resist eating a dessert that’s bigger than your actual meal, then visiting this restaurant should be at the top of your list.

 

Until next time,
Liv
xo

23 THOUGHTS FOR TURNING 23

Okay first of all, holy crap I’m now 23. I’m closer to 25 than 20… And yet I feel no different than when I turned, say, 19. I’ve definitely grown as a person since then, but I still can’t cook, I still get my Mum to ring up the doctors/dentist/opticians to schedule my appointments, and evidently would still rather have a dog than a boyfriend (because Huskies can’t break your heart, right?).

I’ve read a ton of these kind of ’25 things to do before 25’ or ’20 thoughts on turning 20’ posts before, and I always thought it would be fun to do one myself when my birthday comes back around. So to celebrate my new-found OAP status (at least amongst my friends) I’ve compiled a list of 23 things that I’ve learned over the past few years and will be keeping in mind from now onwards.

 

  1. There’s no place like home. Dorothy really knew what she was talking about.
  2. Everything is temporary. My cousin said this to me last year when I was feeling homesick in Oz and it’s really stuck with me since then.
  3. Just eat the damn chocolate bar. I know I want to lose weight and be healthier, but depriving myself of things I love just makes me miserable.
  4. Listen to your body. Yes eat the chocolate bar, but learn to love it in moderation. I need to start realising when my body is telling me to stop, and nourish it by eating healthier options.
  5. Travelling solo will make you a stronger person.
  6. Keep asking questions. Some people find it annoying that I ask so many, but hey, that’s their problem to deal with, not mine.
  7. It’s okay not to be okay.
  8. Everything happens for a reason.
  9. You can say no to things without having to justify yourself. Sometimes all you need is a night at home with a cup of tea and the boxset of Friends.
  10. Don’t stress so much about the little things, especially those you can’t control. I’ve gotten pretty good at being more laid back this past year by asking myself “will this matter in 5 years?”
  11. Learning not to be insecure about my body is taking longer than I would like, but that’s okay, I’ll get there eventually.
  12. But on that note, I’m probably not as big as I think I am.
  13. People actually like freckles. I hate hate hate my freckles (but love them on other people) even though everyone else says they’re cute.
  14. Trying to hide that I have a heart and * gasp * have actual feelings is exhausting, and I’m done with it.
  15. Stop saying sorry so much. It’s such a Northerner thing to do, and I’m a very polite person, but if they bumped into me or something happens and it’s the other person’s fault, I’m no longer apologizing! I’m also going to stop apologizing for the things I enjoy.
  16. Quality over quantity when it comes to friends.
  17. Learn how to be comfortable with your own company. Travelling solo definitely taught me this, because you’re not always going to meet people straight away, and sometimes you might want to do something that no one else is interested in.
  18. Exercise!!! My goal over the next few months is to become as physically fit as I was this time last year, and I want to take on Tough Mudder next summer, which means the gym is going to be like my second home this year.
  19. Learn to cook, for goodness sake just learn to cook, otherwise you’ll end up like me; 23 and still living off bagels and Heinz tinned soup.
  20. Don’t feel guilty for spending money on experiences.
  21. A smile goes a long way.
  22. Make an effort every day, especially on your bad days. I find that it improves my mood even just slightly if I at least feel good about what I look like/what I’m wearing on an off-day.
  23. Forget what Blink-182 said. People will still like you when you’re 23.

 

 

Liv

xo

LIVLIVINGLIFE HAS A NEW LOOK!

Before I created this blog I had debated for months (yes, months) whether to jump straight into the deep end and self-host it from the start, or to just stick with WordPress-hosted instead. It wasn’t for any of the fancy behind the scenes work, but rather so I would have the freedom to design my page however I wanted.

In the end I opted for WordPress hosted, just incase I spent money on hosting fees and a theme and then end up not blogging at all. I’ll admit I’ve not been the most consistent at writing and posting, apart from Blogmas which I’m actually really proud of myself for keeping up with. In my drafts I currently have 7 posts about my time in Australia and 2 posts from being home, yet I just haven’t been able to publish any of them until I was happy with how my blog looked.

I know aesthetics aren’t the most important aspect, if anything it’s the content, but everyone has their own tastes and wants to at least like how their little corner of the internet looks, right? I was also self-conscious about whether other people would judge my blog if it didn’t look nice at first glance, which is a ridiculous thought because the blogger community has been nothing but welcoming to me.

However, this leads me to my current point that I’m sure everyone has already figured out; LivLivingLife has had a makeover! I’m super pleased with my theme from Pipdig, and now I definitely don’t have an excuse not to post at least once a week until the exams/deadline period of my Masters degree hits me like a bullet train. I’m thinking every Sunday? Let me know what you think. This layout makes my posts and pages easier to navigate, and you can find my other social media channels on the header and side bar.

If you run a blog, have you ever had these thoughts/doubts? What do you think of the new look?

 

Liv
xo