By The Sea Shore

Where I feel at home.

I’m happiest when I’m swimming in the ocean, that’s a fact.

I crave the fresh sea air when I’m at my flat.

When I’m away from the water for too long I’m restless. My skin feels dry and I feel stuffy.

The sea is probably the only place I feel truly myself. I don’t know what it is exactly but, the freedom I feel from swimming is so relaxing and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to share that with my partner recently.

A couple of weeks ago I felt so carefree, full of joy and delicious food.

We didn’t know that life was about to become so much more stressful.

All of our worries at that time had escaped us, as we stayed in Cornwall soaking up the sun for almost an entire week, swimming at the beach, sunbathing, eating fresh seafood and catching up with old friends.

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Life has become much more stressful now but we’re both trying to manage it as best we can. All I can do is sit back, let it all wash over me and pray that the waters will calm soon.

Honestly though, nothing compares to living by the sea. I keep dreaming of having a home on the beach one day. Vast ocean and countryside views, big windows and that clean air. A place for my creativity in the kitchen and garden to thrive.

Pure bliss.

They say that living by the coast has so many health benefits too and, in a previous post I explore why I love this lifestyle so much. I’m not sure I’m feeling the full health benefits at the moment from my flat in Plymouth but, I know that the coast is only a short drive away and that makes me happy.

Overall, I think I can say that this has definitely been the best and worst Summer I’ve had in a long time. I know I’ll be sad when it’s over but I’m looking forward to the future and Autumn so much too.

 

Making Life Good Again

Sometimes all you need is a good catch up with your mum to make things good again.

After a stressful couple of months dealing with moving house and the finances involved, this weekend has felt like the first in a while where I could just chill and take it all in.

Me and my boyfriend ended up moving house a little early due to lack of communication from our estate agents, and everything sort of became a mess. I ended up spending more money than expected and moving became a huge rush. We’ve been in since June 1st but are finding problems left right and center.

Lets just say it’s not been easy. We’ve contemplated our regrets a lot and are only just beginning to feel settled.

I’m eternally grateful for my mums support and my boyfriends dads too though. My mum has been amazing and my boyfriends dad has been there to try and help with every issue we’ve found with the flat.

I know so many people who have such complicated relationships with their parents and I’m so glad I’m not one of them. My mum literally makes everything better. She is full of kindness and I turn to her for support in everything I do. If I didn’t have it during this move I don’t think I could live here. Is that weird?

Anyway, I’m so open about how thankful I am for everything she’s ever done and continues to do for me and I just want her to have the best life possible.

Times have been rough on us all recently and it’s so hard to put on a brave face when you’re feeling your worst. But, I encourage myself and my loved ones to take a step back and get some fresh air as often as possible. That means different things to everyone but to me and mum, it means getting outside. Being with nature, having a good lunch and a catch up. Laughing lots and talking through our problems.

Recently we did just that whilst visiting a local farm shop. We ordered lunch, watched chickens running around and laughed at Alpacas. We shopped for fresh veggie produce and eyed up the deli section. We sat on a bench with a big cup of coffee, discussed our worries and how we wanted to resolve them.

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I always feel that everything is better after eating a good meal, drinking a hearty coffee and spilling out all of the thought that have been consuming you all week. It’s easy to keep things bottled up but, it’s not healthy to live like that and I don’t want to watch someone struggling either.

We’re trying to make life easier, better and healthier in all aspects. I’ve been trying to hold it together and struggling throughout the move but things are getting easier and, I think the sunshine truly helps with that.

I also try to live by the simple words my mum would always say and reiterate them to her when she’s feeling down…

Everything works out. It just does. This is just a moment in time.

What you’re feeling now is only temporary. It’s natural to feel anxious and worried but don’t let it eat away at who you really are.

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I just think it’s easy to focus on the things that aren’t right in your life but, there’s plenty of good things happening too.

My new home is coming together slowly.

I’m going on holiday to Cornwall and will be dog sitting later in July whilst mum is sunning it up in Spain.

Life is good and so are we.

Starting With A Poached Egg

Some time ago I remember visiting Bills and raving about their delicious veggie breakfast. I wanted to recreate my own version at home but life has been busy, so I’ve been avoiding breakfast or eating porridge as a quick fix for as long as I can remember.

This bank holiday weekend things are different though.

After a manic week of feeling worried about my personal life and doing overtime at work, I swore to myself that today I would relax. My boyfriend is out all day too so I’m taking things easy. There’s a little tidying up to do but if I don’t get it done I won’t beat myself up about it.

Taking things slow for me means that I sleept in, had a bubble bath and will watch and eat whatever I want.

I accidentally had all of the ingredients to recreate a version of Bill’s breakfast today so, after eating leftover pizza for breakfast I thought I’d attempt to make a poached egg for lunch. I’d tried a few times before but failed. Apparently the trick is vinegar not salt. Is this something everyone else knew apart from me?

Regardless it worked!

Maybe it was actually me anxiously waiting and watching the pot boil that made it work actually? Practice makes perfect I suppose and it was my last egg.

I paired my poached egg with some delicious bread for the Aldi deli section, chopped an avocado, mixed with garlic and paprika and spread over two thick slices of bread. To finish off I added a splash of sweet chilli sauce as well.

The only thing missing from my dish compared to Bill’s was the lack of tomato hummus or mushrooms but, I’ll be more prepared next time. Halloumi would also be a delicious addition I’m sure.

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I suppose it turns out that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, regardless of when you decide to eat it. My pizza breakfast this morning was me feeling lazy but, this was just the opposite. Getting up and making myself a little something exciting to eat has filled me with joy. I’m still lacking the motivation to clean but, I’m blogging and feeling cheerful for what feels like the first time in a long long week.

My breakfast for lunch is a small attempt at me trying to be kinder to myself. I’ve been getting carried away, wrapped up in work and exhausted. I’ve not been giving myself enough time to breathe and as a result I’ve been short with just about everyone. Relationships feel like they’re crumbling and I’m trying to hold it together.

I’ll be making this breakfast again that’s for sure and I’m already looking forward to it.

I’m trying to get my shit together and I’ve started with a poached egg.

Weight Issues

With Spring now in full swing, I’ve had to dig my Spring/Summer wardrobe from an old suitcase and scramble to find dresses that still fit. I was totally unprepared for the heatwave that has welcomed us into Spring recently but it’s got me feeling all kinds of happiness and motivation.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my body image now that it’s no tights weather and honestly, this is the first time I’ve ever sat down and decided to write about my complex thoughts on the subject. I want to lose weight though. Mentally I’ve never been happier and I love the life I’ve created with my partner but, I hate my psychical appearance these days and I don’t want this feeling to last.

Everyone has their own reasons to why they might have put on weight and it’s important not to judge ourselves or others too harshly. Maybe it’s a moment in your life when something unexpected happened, a break up, a spout of depression, a new love for a certain takeaway, weight gain following the birth of your baby and the list goes on. Whatever it is, we all need to acknowledge the story, embrace it and realise the personal changes you need to make.

I’ve been a size 8 and ashamed of my body and now a size 12 but, feeling like a size 20.  I’m currently at my heaviest but I’m also the happiest I’ve ever been and yet, I think about my weight constantly. It’s reached the point where I hate all photos that people take of me. I pretty much only approve of the ones I’ve taken of myself where I can hide my bad bits.

Even at my skinniest aged 19 I wanted to be skinnier. I had a real confidence issue and anxiety about having my legs or arms out in public. Now I look back and feel like a real idiot. I see photos of myself with my tiny frame and long blonde hair and I wonder what was going through my head. I don’t know where the lack of confidence came from but it was totally unnecessary and it makes me feel sad now. Sad that I didn’t enjoy my youth enough because of a totally irrational state of mind.

I’m 25 now and the most confident I have ever felt, despite being 2 stone heavier than my 2016 self. I’m still incredibly insecure and desperately want my old body back but, I’m not nervous to leave the house anymore. I’m still disappointed when I don’t fit into my favourite dress or when I feel like I can’t sit in a bikini on a warm day at the beach  however, I’m not going let that ruin my day like I might have before.

I began putting on weight when I met my boyfriend. Apparently, everyone gains a little when they enter a new relationship because you’re going on more dates, treating each other to good food and making dinner time a romantic experience. I love eating/cooking/food shopping, there’s no denying that and after 2 years of being in a relationship my weight keeps on going up and up. I just love spoiling my loved ones, cooking new dishes and testing out classic (rich and probably unhealthy) recipes in my own kitchen. This is something I don’t want to stop but maybe a little exercise on my days off wouldn’t hurt?

My job is really demanding and psychical so, at the moment on my days off it’s hard to find motivation. I just want to chill out and relax on the sofa or in bed. I fully understand that need to find a way to incorporate exercise into my routine though. I don’t want to keep gaining weight and I’m well aware of the health implications of continuing with my current lifestyle.

I’m thinking yoga or weights might be the way forward. I have small weights and a yoga mat in my wardrobe but they are totally untouched. I purchased them with the best intentions but the motivation was short lived. I think the problem I have is trying to be disciplined with myself. Not strict but, finding a routine that’ll make me get out of bed in the morning. Finding something that’ll lift my spirits for the rest of the day. It’s harder than it seems apparently but I want to try again.

So, I have some advice for me and for anyone else going through the same battle. It’s not going to be easy but it’ll get easier as time goes on (I hope). If you want to lose weight you need to do it because you’re ready and prepared to make scarifies to improve your life (e.g. not ordering pizza every Friday night). It’s okay to have a treat day occasionally but in order to lose weight you might have to change your relationship with food.

It’s important to remember just because your friends are working out and dieting doesn’t mean that you should let them pressure you either. Whatever weight loss routine works for them might not work for you, so don’t beat yourself and compare progress.

Your goal is to lose weight but it’s important to maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle. Don’t live at the gym and constantly worry about what you’re eating. Too much control isn’t a good thing either. You can be confident and healthy no matter what you weigh and it’s about quality of life. Your health comes first and you can be a healthy size 8 or size 18. It’s all about changing your perception of beauty and finding confidence again.

Remember to set realistic targets. Find a meal plan and work out routine that works for you. You don’t have to join a gym or a weight loss group to do so either. Research tips from the comfort of your own home and don’t panic.

FYI, I’m still trying to find what works for me. I’ve tried the gym several times but could never motivate myself to commit. I always find that after a couple weeks the routine slips and I can’t pick it up again. I’m thinking of trying Slimming World recipes at home because many of my friends have had great success with them but, I’m a little set in my ways I suppose. I love the recipes I already have for many meals and it’s difficult to make changes and follow a new recipe.

All we can do is keep trying for a happier healthier life. It’s so important to nurture our bodies inside and out. Mental health plays a huge part on how we perceive ourselves and just because we might feel negatively about our image doesn’t mean that the rest of the world sees that. It’s a battle that we can all break through and if you’re suffering from a mental health condition and want to seek help contact your GP who can refer you. Taking the decision to reach out is a huge step in the right direction and shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing, so please don’t sit in silence if you think your weight gain is more complex than just having a big apetite.

Stay strong. Stay positive. Stay motivated.

Cheat every now and again but always keep your goal in mind.

The words I hope to live by for the rest of 2018.

A New Home

A few months ago me and my boyfriend began thinking about moving somewhere new together. Our needs have changed a little which means that our current home no longer works despite how much we love it. Our flat is bright, airy and surrounded by green space but, we need a second bedroom and a much bigger kitchen.

I remember when we moved into our first flat together we had more money saved because we’d previously lived with our parents and, as a new couple the whole process of moving out felt exciting. It’s still exciting now but with money playing a larger factor , having to think about the furniture we already own and the lifestyle that we want to continue leading in a new property has created lots of anxiety between us both I think.

The area we currently live in is also where I grew up and my mum lives just around the corner however, we can’t afford to buy a bigger property in this location which means that we’ve had to look a tiny bit further. Still walking distance from mum and green space but without the view because we’ve now found a flat just off of our local high street.

Finding the perfect new home hasn’t been easy for me I must say. I’d been looking online and keeping my eyes out for a new place to call home for some time and ideally I wanted a house or at least a maisonette. Unfortunately, it had become apparent that within our budget this wasn’t realistic unless we wanted to compromise on another aspect.

We viewed one flat on Thursday last week and I remember walking in hating it. I didn’t get the feels I felt when we walked into our first home together during 2016. I immediately knew it was a no but my boyfriend liked it so I tried to be nice. After a long discussion we decided that the property wasn’t for us. There was limited natural light, the kitchen felt smaller than our current one and the hallway was too dark.

Despite this, we later found out that the end ground floor flat next door was also available, so we gave the letting agency a call and viewed the property. My boyfriend viewed the place first when I was at work and took me back the following day to get my opinion on things. Again, the hallway felt a little small and dark but, I walked in and felt much happier. The space felt more welcoming and the layout worked better. The sitting room and kitchen are in one open planned space which lets in a lot of natural light and did I mention the beautiful kitchen?! It’s fantastic. We do have to sell our current fridge as we will have one built in but, that’s okay.

I know I wanted a house and deep down probably still do but, this flat ticks every box within our budget. Overall, I think we’ve found the right place to call home for a while and I can’t wait to move in mid June. I still have my worries about the property but, my boyfriend has a usable space (the second bedroom) for his gaming and we can have a little sofa bed in there too for guests. He also gets off road parking for his much loved vintage car and I get a great kitchen/living space.

I can’t wait to get moving and share my new home with you all. It’s going to be a lot of fun once all of the heavy lifting is done.

Good things are happening! Now it’s time to relax and get planning.

 

 

 

 

Coastal Living

When the sun is shining and I can escape to the sea I’m so grateful that my mum chose to raise me in Plymouth.

What a great decision!!

This week whilst the sun has been shining away me and mum have been able to spend lots of time together, going for beach walks with the dogs and coffee by the shore. It’s been so lovely and I’m so thankful for weeks like this, where I can enjoy my days away from work and feel like I’m on a little holiday.

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I bumped into a couple old work colleagues on their lunch breaks buying fish n chips and thought to myself, thank God I chose to quit. Thank God I have entire days to enjoy this weather, not just short lunch breaks dreading going back to that office.

I couldn’t imagine not living by the sea and Devon is where I want to spend the rest of my days, living with my boyfriend and eventually raising a family. Plymouth is a beautiful city surrounded by vast landscapes, with Cornwall and Dartmoor only a stones throw away, so why wouldn’t anyone want to live here I don’t know but, it’s something I hear all the time from people who currently reside in the city.

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I don’t think people really realise what they have until it’s gone, which is why so many people move away from coastal cities and return later in life to raise a family or retire. There are so many benefits to living near the coast compared to living in a larger and much more densely populated city like London for example.

Waking up to fresh sea air is a huge benefit and something that appeals to many but there are some other serious health benefits too. The sea helps you feel calm, enables you to sleep better and helps to decrease your levels of stress. Living by the ocean and green spaces also apparently encourages people to exercise more and to take up more outdoor sports such as coastal walking, jogging, surfing and sailing.

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Personally, knowing that I have plenty of beaches in both Devon and Cornwall to choose visiting whenever the sun is shining makes me feel spoilt. I know that if I need to get some fresh air that I’m in walking distance of beautiful parks and the sea, which already makes me feel a lot less stressed.

In terms of food, it’s also great knowing that there are plenty of fresh seafood restaurants to enjoy and that all the ingredients are locally sourced, which is important to me as a foodie. You can’t beat a good bit of cod in batter and I know that whatever the time of year I can access this delicious meal and it’ll be fresh.

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Coastal living also provides a great quality of life to your pets. Allowing your dogs to attend some beautiful walks with you, giving them the opportunity to enjoy nature and paddle in the sea is just as important to them as it is to us. Enjoying days out with your dogs in this way is a beautiful thing and something I encourage doing so as often as possible.

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Even if you don’t live by the ocean and can’t access green space as often as you’d like, it’s important to get away from city life from time to time. Visit your local park or swimming pool, take some time out and book a mini break to Cornwall, take a long drive to the coast or go on a long walk.

There are days when it’s sunny but we want to stay in doors having some alone time but, I urge you you to enjoy the great outdoors whilst you can. When the sun is shining it’s a glorious thing and getting a little vitamin D will help brighten your spirits.

British weather sucks for the most part so it’s important to enjoy the sunny days whilst we can. I mean, who knows when we’ll get a week like this again. So, get out of the house, get your friends or family together and head out of the city and towards the coast!

I promise you won’t regret.

 

 

20’s Life Struggles – Adulthood, Moving Out & Employment

If you’re in your 20’s you most probably know exactly how I feel about struggling with money. I thought after leaving education that life would get easier and that’s just totally not what happens at all!

You’re already trying to find the right career, have a social life and find independence, and it’s made so much more difficult because of the current economic climate. Despite how much the government pretends to support young adults, I don’t see any proof and sadly I don’t think it’ll change under the Conservatives.

I work damn hard, always pay my bills on time and after they come out my disposable income is pretty low. It’s so disheartening and after going out for a couple nice days out with friends or family my money is gone within the first week most of the time.

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Unless you have wealthy parents who are willing and able to financially support you in terms of buying a property, paying bills when you aren’t able to or have saved money all of their lives for you, it feels like none of your aspirations will ever become a reality. I totally get it.

It drives me insane when I hear people who claim to be struggling with money, somehow manage to afford a big holiday or to buy a beautiful home, just out of thin air! It’s just not true that they worked hard and saved every penny. I’m not convinced anyway. It’s got to the point where I don’t even have to ask, I just assume that they most likely have had their parents financial support in being able to do achieve those things at my age. I can’t lie, it makes me feel jealous. I hate people that brag and don’t value money in the same way that I do.

When I was 22 and living with mum I was paid weekly which made it so easy for me to save I must admit. I would give my mum £50 per week, keep £50 for me and save the other £150 EVERY SINGLE WEEK. I still had a pretty good social life yet, after working for 4 months at that job I managed to save £2000. I have no idea how I did it but being paid weekly really worked and helped me easily manage my finances. I managed to pay off my overdraft and that felt fantastic.

Now, I get paid monthly and still try to save but it’s a challenge. I aim to put £100 in my savings each month but usually it’s back at 10p (that’s all interest) by the time the month has ended. This month I’ve tried hard to save and I have a little bit for the first time in 3 years which feels really great. However, I’m fully aware that pretty much every month there’s a hiccup and the money might need to be spent.

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Nonetheless, I’ve been trying to remember the advice I gave myself with my first job after graduating in hopes to motivate myself and anyone else wanting to save –

  • Plan a monthly budget – £200 on food shopping, £100 on social events etc
  • Set a strict amount to add to your savings each month
  • Create a Direct Debit to make life easier
  • If you take money out make sure to put in back when you get paid
  • Have a goal figure in mind
  • Set up a joint savings account with your partner and make sure to add equal amount each

Renting

If you want to leave your family home in your 20s you’ll probably be renting unless you’re really really lucky. It feels like if you want to buy you’ll end up living with your parents til the end or time, or at least well into your 30s.

This wasn’t something I was prepared to do. I want to buy one day of course but, I love my boyfriend and living with either of our parents wasn’t an option. Thankfully at the time we chose to move I had saved a further £2000 and my boyfriend had redundancy money which meant that we could afford to move out, pay the deposit, estate agent fees and fully furnish our flat. But, it wasn’t cheap and anyone who’s living in rented accommodation will tell you the same.

If you live at home already you should be aware of what will be required of you once you’ve decided to fly the nest and rent. Your chosen estate agents will charge you first months rent and a deposit, which will usually total the cost of one months rent plus an extra £100. If like me, they might also charge you an additional amount to take secure the flat from any further viewings too, which cost me another £300. Oh, and don’t forget, they will also charge you for the cost of checking references.

It’s not cheap and hardly ever affordable but, I’m a strong believer that us young adults shouldn’t live at home until we’re half way through our adult lives. I know it’s tricky getting the finances together to rent and it sucks not owning the property itself but, it’s certainly nice to have independence.

Trying to feel positive about the many great aspects of living in my own flat makes it just about okay that I have no savings and, hopefully if you move out you’ll feel the same way too. If you’re lucky you’ll also find a nice enough landlord who will somewhat let you decorate the place too and, that’ll give you the freedom to feel like the place is yours.

Home Aspirations 

I’ve always had a dream of owning a beautiful red brick property, with high ceilings and pretty fireplaces. Thinking about having an office of my own and a real workspace for my boyfriends IT company to take off. He could even have an amazing garage space to store his vintage cars and I could have an incredible white kitchen kitted out with every gadget imaginable.

That’s my big dream and goal in life. I want a happy home. The thought of having enough space to take all of our hobbies seriously and enjoy our free time together means everything to me.

At the moment for us both it feels like a distant dream.

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I’m aware that the government and implemented Help to Buy schemes are various other ways for young adults to enter the property ladder but, it’s still something I certainly can’t afford. We hope that one day we save up that 10% required to purchase our first home together but it’s not easy. Banks and mortgage loans are so complicated. Purchasing a house should be fun but, thinking of the cost of estate agents and solicitor fees on top of the property itself makes me want to break down and cry.

Employment

It doesn’t matter if you are or aren’t in your dream job right this second. It’s all experience and will lead you to the career path that’s right for you whether you realise it or not.

Sometimes, working in a job that you hate can have it’s benefits too. It makes you not worry about work outside of the hours you’re there and it allows you to narrow down your next job search. Once you know what you don’t like you can think about the jobs that might be better suited and apply for those instead.

If you have found the right job for you, make sure it will still work in the long term. Make sure there’s progression, that the salary is acceptable and will grow when your skills grow and you’re promoted. Make sure they value you and that your relationships are good with senior management. Make sure that you have a pension, the option for flexible working and a good maternity/paternity package. Basically, make sure your employer isn’t demanding too much and giving too little in return. Read their policies and keep up to date with changes that may impact you. You should be able to access your companies policy or handbook by speaking with you manager or accessing internal systems, they might have even included a copy in your contract too.

Pensions & Retirement Age

I recently looked at my pension scheme with the People’s Pension and was horrified if I’m honest.

Legally every employer has to offer some sort of pension however, that doesn’t mean the pension is necessarily that amazing. I mean, I pay about £6 per month into mine, which is matched by my employer and over the past two years that’s added up to a very sad amount of money. According to the People’s Pension it means that I won’t be able to retire until I’m 68 years old at earliest.

I hate to break it to you but, unless you work for a major organisation like the NHS for example your pension probably sucks too.

Regardless, I think it’s still so important to be enrolled on a pension. You can choose to opt out if you want to but,  in doing this you’re not investing in yourself or understanding that later in life you and your loved ones may need this money. It might not look like a life changing amount at the moment and you might resent putting whatever amount you put in every month but, you’ll be grateful when you do retire to have that bit of money behind you. That’s how I’m trying to feel about it anyway!

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If you want to know the total amount your pension is at just contact your pension provider and request a statement. Alternatively, the amount you put in monthly should be on your payslip and you should be able to work out the total from there.

If you’re registered with the People’s Pension just visit their website and log in or activate as a new user with your NI number. They’ll breakdown everything you need to know about your pension and provide additional info too.

To sum up…

Life is hard! It’s always going to be difficult. Hopefully one day money won’t be a worry for any of us and I hope so badly that all of our aspirations come true.

In the short term, all we can do is try our best to focus on the good and plan for things that bring us joy. Don’t forget, it’s okay to treat ourselves too. I’m not saying we need to be strict or worried all of the time. We should all let our hair down, live in the moment and be spontaneous with the money we’ve worked bloody hard to earn too.

Think of the positive and plan for the future as best we can.