Sunday, 31 March 2019

Sarah Visits | Lake District & South Lakes Zoo

Last week I went on a girls night away with my bestie and it was just what I needed. I had been so stressed out with work and it came just at the right time. Sometimes some quality time with your mates is the best medicine right?!

Back in January for my Birthday, my friend Adele had bought me a Giraffe feeding experience and a Red Panda experience at South Lakes Safari Zoo in the Lake District and we had booked to do it last week so we decided to make the most of it and have a girls night there as well. We stayed in a gorgeous boutique hotel called Aphrodites Lodge which was a small cute hotel in Bowness-on-Windemere, just a short walk from Windemere Marina, and the ferry terminal on Lake Windemere. Our room we stayed in was called the Orchid Suite and was really big with a huge circular bed, a double bath and private hot tub just outside, which was under shelter in case it rained. A perfect touch as let's be honest it normally does in England! It's a spa hotel and has a big lovely pool and a pretty little bar (only open until 10:30pm though!), but we didn't really use any of the amenities in the hotel as we were only there for one night and were leaving early the next day.
The only thing I will fault about the hotel is that there wasn't a restaurant. They had bar snacks you could order as room service but this was more like nacho's, bread and oil, etc.. and nothing really for an evening meal. There are restaurants dotted around the local area but most restaurants/takeaways were a 20 minute walk from the hotel. Not ideal when we had already cracked open the gin and couldn't drive. We ended up ordering a pizza to the hotel and spending the night drinking in the hot tub and watching films. If that's not a good girls night then I don't know what is! Let's not talk about Adele screaming in the middle of the night that there was a girl floating above us though shall we... hahahaha! Actually nearly shit my pants! I think a mixture of lots of gin and an extremely warm room was to blame for that one though!

Before we spent hours turning into prunes in the hot tub, we went for a wander down to Lake Windemere and Windemere Marina and I have got to say, some of those boats docked in the Marina were impressive!! We spent about half an hour wandering around them all picking which one we will buy when we win the lottery! Because I swear it will happen one day. One day those "we have news about your ticket" emails will be telling me I have won more a couple million more than the usual £4.50 I am sure of it!

The Lake District is so beautiful. Look at those views!! When you live in a big city like Liverpool, sometimes a trip to somewhere so different like the Lakes and breathing in the fresh air is just so relaxing and chills you out so much. I love just getting away for a day or two to places like this, it honestly makes you feel a million miles away from the stress of the office! I really want to see more of the Lake District when the weathers a bit nicer as this was only the second time I had been. I really want to visit places like this more and be in the great outdoors a little more. As Belle once sang, "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere!"

The next day it was the day I had been excited for since my Birthday when I got the present and time to do something I had always wanted to do. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love animals and absolutely adore Giraffes and I had wanted to do Giraffe feeding experience with them for SO long. And today was the day I was finally going to live out that dream! I was so so excited I can't even begin to explain!

We had our experience with a lad called Simon who was so friendly, chatty and told us so much about the Giraffes. He told us all about the food they ate, about the actual Giraffes that lived there, some facts about Giraffes and how they do amazing work alongside other zoo's around the world to try and help prevent extinction. There was only me Adele and two others doing the experience that day so it felt so much more personal and made the experience so much better as we got so much more time each feeding them.
The feeding was amazing, I felt so overwhelmed and like my heart could have burst! They are such beautiful animals and were so gentle when they were taking the food, they let us stroke them and when we were talking, they kept popping their heads down to our group as if they wanted to be part of whatever we were talking about! We fed them carrots and in total we spent about 45 minutes with them. It was such an amazing experience and something I would highly recommend. I have loved Giraffes all my life and to finally get so up close and personal with them really was a dream come true!

As it was a weekday in March, the zoo was quite empty that day which meant we could go ages without seeing anyone and it was so much nicer than the usual crowds you have to fight through during Summer or weekends. As there wasn't many visitors, straight after our Giraffe experience, Simon asked us if we wanted to go and see the Rhinos. Obviously we weren't going to say no! He took us over and he spent around 15 mins with us talking about the Rhinos and he even let us stroke them! AS IF I have stroked an actual Rhino! They felt so strange, the body feels just like you would expect, hard and coarse, but their faces are so squashy and soft. It was such an amazing little extra we were so lucky to get!

The penguins are free to roam around their enclosure and the public are able to walk through and be so close to them which I have never seen in a zoo before. They do feeding experiences throughout the day for £3 but they only take cash and we only had our bank cards so unfortunately we didn't get to feed them. We did get to walk through and hang out with them for a little bit though and some of them even let me stroke them! Adele wasn't so lucky though and one did try and bite her finger off haha! They are such funny little characters waddling along! 

Our Red Panda feeding didn't go to plan but every cloud has a silver lining! We went over and they were in their mating season so they were more interested in each other than us and would't come out the tree they were in. The female Red Panda, Tinkerbell was asleep and the male Red Panda, Pan (how amazing are those names!), was too busy being a horny devil and trying to get his wicked way with her and unfortunately for us, at that time the food just wasn't as interesting as having some Panda fun with Tinkerbell! We decided to give it half an hour and try again as the other two people on our experience had a Sloth feeding experience booked too. We hadn't seen the sloth yet so we went over with them to see him while they were feeding him. We just sat to the side while they did their experience and half way through they asked us if we wanted a go of feeding him! We said no at first as they had paid for this experience and we didn't want to use some of their time when they had spent their money on it, but they insisted so we also got to have the amazing experience of feeding Stanley the Sloth as well! He was absolutely adorable and loved his grapes we fed him. I couldn't believe the kindness of the couple offering some of their experience to us. We were so grateful!

The second try of the feeding experience with Pan and Tinkerbell still didn't go to plan, however we did get to feed Pan even if he was still refusing to come out of his tree. We fed him their favourite food Bamboo and just seeing his little face looking down at me while he was chomping on his leaves was enough for me.

Thinking back I honestly can't believe how lucky we were to get so many little extras throughout the day. I highly recommend South Lakes Safari Zoo for a fun day out, it's not as big as other zoo's I've been to but the fact you can get so close to the animals was just the best experience! We had the best day there and I am so happy I had one of my dreams come true finally and fed my all time faves! Plus ticking things off my bucket list I didn't even know were on there!


Sunday, 3 March 2019

Sarah Travels | Budapest

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away"

I was sitting on the top of an open top bus, next to my favourite person in the world, the sun shining down on us while the stunning Hungarian city flew past us, the Danube sparkling bright next to us in the sunshine, and seeing Craig sitting next to me beaming with happiness. It was then that I knew Budapest had stolen my heart. (Sorry Paris, I still love you!! This must be what cheating feels like haha!).

Those times in your life where you just feel so happy you could burst, Budapest was one of those times for me.

I'm currently having a lazy Sunday while the rain's pouring down outside so I thought today is the perfect day for a throwback to sunnier times strolling around a glorious city. Let's throw it back to Budapest, mine and Craig's first trip abroad together back in May 2018.

Budapest is somewhere I've wanted to go for a long time. I've never known too much about the place or country as a whole, and it's not the most common of city breaks, but something about it has always intrigued me and I have just felt drawn there and was desperate to go. Once I got there, it became so clear that I had made the right choice in wanting to go there. It's got such a magical feeling to it. It was also mine and Craig's first holiday abroad together, so it was always going to be special no matter where we were, but there was just something about that city. I felt so content, so comfortable and I can see why George Ezra wrote a song about the place.
Castle Hill Furnicular
Fisherman's Bastion & amazing views from the Bastion over the Danube

Fisherman's Bastion
Budapest is split into two sides, Buda and Pest which are separated by the Danube. Buda was definitely my favourite of the two, being home to the absolutely breathtaking Castle District. The Castle District is where you will find Buda Castle (which now houses Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery) and Fisherman's Bastion. It was amazing and was completely different to anywhere I'd ever been or anything I'd seen in any other city break I had been on. 
We got the funicular up the hill which took about 5 minutes. I was expecting it to be a little bit longer to be honest but it was so cute! I swear down though, I have never seen Craig so excited. Even now to this day I haven't seen him as excited as he was getting on that funicular haha, whereas I hadn't even heard of a funicular before we went I'm not going to lie! 

The views of across Budapest from the Castle District, and in particular the Fisherman's Basiton are just unreal! 4 of my favourite things in the world, sunsets, rainbows, the sound of the ocean, and a good view!! You can see for miles right across the city and the Parliament building standing tall on the Pest riverside.
The Fisherman's Bastion is a must see while you are in Budapest. It reminded me of Hogwarts (massive Harry Potter fan over here, so more brownie points there!), and although it was extremely crowded it's definitely something I'd highly recommend going to have a look at. I just wanted to don a cloak and a wand and run around shouting Expelliarmus!
While we were there, there was a little market taking place in the Castle District where we tried some "chips on a stick" (not a fan), wandered around the cute little market stands, saw some traditional Hungarian dancers, and had the best pasta I have ever had in a restaurant called Arany Hordo Vendeglo just round the corner from the Fishermans Bastion. Budapest is really big on Paprika and we had the most gorgeous spaghetti with chicken and mushrooms in a creamy paprika sauce, ABSOLUTE HEAVEN! We also saw the changing of the guards in the Buda Castle take place and had the most gorgeous Gelato. It was perfect.

View from the Castle Hill District
Market on Castle Hill & Chip's on a Stick
St Stephen's Basilica  & View's from the top
Budapest Eye & the most stunning sunset from the top of the Eye
Most amazing Pasta in the world at Arany Hordo Vendeglo & the best Pizza's ever at I Quattro Artisti

After we had left the Castle District we travelled back over to the Pest side of the River and went and climbed the millions of steps to the top of St Stephen's Basilica which was an absolute killer, I thought I was gonna have serious quads of steel on the go after climbing those stairs! It was well worth it though when you get to the top and are greeted with some incredible views! Again with the view I know but honestly, see it for yourself and you will understand! 
We ended the day with the nicest Pizza in the world at I Quattro Artisti, Budapest really know how to do good food! We also had some delicious wine, and then had a little ride on the Budapest Eye while the sun was setting. As far as first days on holiday go, it was pretty unbeatable!

The next day we visited the Szechenyi Thermal Baths which is an extravagant thermal outdoor baths and it was amazing. I know the name is thermal bath, but I did not expect the water to be as warm as it was. It was a toasty 26 degrees and I could have spent all day in there if we weren't on a strict timescale.  You can hire a cubicle which you can get changed in and then lock after you to store all your clothes and valuables in and you can hire towels as well which are extremely clean so if you have plans after like we did you don't have to worry about carrying around wet towels with you all day. The place itself is just stunning and although it was extremely busy, it was so relaxing. The only thing I wasn't impressed with was the amount of men who were rocking speedo's but nothing can be perfect I guess haha. It's definitely the number 1 thing I would recommend doing in Budapest along with visiting the Castle District and Fisherman's Bastion.

That day we also visited Margaret Island, a 1 and a half mile Island situated in the middle of the Danube which is covered in Parks and it just absolutely beautiful. We were meant to hire bikes and ride around but we ended up on a little golf style buggy and rode that around the Island which was SO fun! Only problem was, short arse Sarah over here couldn't reach the pedals on it so poor Craig ended up doing all the pedalling while I just steered and videoed us haha!  Again I wish we had longer to spend on there, we didn't plan our time as good on the second day and everything ended up being a bit rushed, but we still got a good hour there. 

We ended this day with a sunset cruise down the Danube which was just absolutely unbelievable and something I would highly recommend doing. We bought hop on hop off bus tickets and got the cruise included in the price for those but they also do more pricey options on more grand boats with meals and music which sounded amazing!  

Margaret Island
Riding around Margaret Island
Sunset boat cruise on the Danube
Parliament Building

On our last day before we went home, we managed to fit in a little trip to the Shoes on the Danube memorial on the Pest side of the River which was really beautiful but also extremely sad.  The Shoes on the Danube memorial was made to remember the thousands of people murdered by being made to remove their shoes and then line up on the River Bank before being shot dead into the River by the Arrow Cross Party during the War. It was extremely moving and such a beautiful way to remember all the innocent people killed in such an awful way. 

Shoes On the Danube Memorial

Budapest is such an amazing City, with absolutely loads to do. We had so much we wanted to see and do which we never got the chance to while we were there. We really want to go and see the Parliament building properly because we only saw it from afar, and we really want to go to Budapest Zoo, go and see Heroes Square and see Liberty Statue. But we also want to spend more time in the Thermal Baths and on Margaret Island. We will definitely be back at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, to experience what other delights my new favourite city has to offer.

If you haven't been to Budapest before I would definitely add it to your bucket list of places to visit. You won't regret it! 

Once a year, go somewhere you've never been before 


Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Sarah's City | City of Light, City of Sanctuary

Last week and through into the weekend, a floating city of light shone bright in a Liverpool park.

An amazing Liverpool based art company called the Lantern Company brought their magical art display to Sefton Park and of course, I had to go down and see it. I have been to a Halloween carnival created by the Lantern Company before and I knew how amazing their creations were and when I saw this advertised I knew I couldn't miss it! I mean, it's a floating city of lanterns! If it doesn't remind you of the lantern scene from Tangled, aka one of the best Disney scenes EVER than you have no soul!
I love how unique the Lantern Companies work is and how beautiful everything that they create is, and the fact that they are a home grown Scouse independent company just makes supporting them even better!

The event took place on Sefton Parks boating lake and was free to attend. Their was was another part to it which was the City of Sanctuary part in the Palm House which also looked brilliant, but that was ticketed and we didn't manage to get tickets unfortunately. Seeing this was enough for me though. Not every day you can say you saw something like this!

It was an absolutely beautiful art event and it blew me away how pretty and magical it was when the night time hit and the city of lanterns shone in all their glory. I love how much diversity there is in Liverpool and always something unique and exciting going on that really manages to bring the city together. If you can't tell, I am a very proud scouser ;) There was so many people there, it was absolutely rammed and over the 5 nights this event was on for, every night was the same. Liverpool just completely fell in love with the shining city on the boating lake and I certainly hope it's not the last time we see it, or something similar comes along soon. 

I just had to end this post with a shot of the gorgeous fire sky above the floating city at dusk while we were waiting for it to go dark. I just love me a good sunset!

Another amazing event Liverpool, well done! Cannot wait for the next one! Keep them coming!


Sunday, 14 October 2018

Sarah's Life | A Lot Can Happen In A Year

This week (Wednesday 10th October) it was World Mental Health day and it really got me thinking about how much of a different place I am in compared to this time last year.

Flash back to a year ago and I was in what I'd say was the worst time of my life so far. I had just gotten back from the most amazing holiday to South America and I had (and still do have) the most amazing boyfriend in the world, but aside from that, I was so unhappy.

A year ago today I was weeks away from being made redundant from a job I had been in since I had just turned 20, so a third of my life, and basically the whole of my adult life. Anyone who has ever been through a redundancy knows how much of a horrible time it is and it's something that I can only describe as horrendous. I was scared, worried, nervous, anxious and my whole personality changed. When I was with my friends, or on social media, I would put on a front and act like I always am, this happy, silly girl who was always cracking jokes and laughing. But behind the scenes around my family and Craig I was a complete mess and so broken emotionally. I cried every single day, sometimes multiple times a day, for over 6 months. I was overly sensitive and my confidence was completely knocked. I was anxious all the time thinking about big changes that were happening in my life that were completely out of my control and the furthest thing from what I wanted as I loved my job and the people I worked with. I was applying for jobs and getting nowhere. I had been applying for jobs for around 9 months and hadn't even gotten a call back for an interview. I felt like a complete failure. The anxiety over it all convinced me that I wasn't good enough for any other jobs and I was just going to end up struggling through life.

Alongside losing my job there was also other factors adding to how unhappy I was. My mum has COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and at the time, her health was deteriorating in front of our eyes. She had just had a stair lift fitted in the house as she could no longer walk up the stairs and her breathing was terrible. She was in and out of the doctors and there was quite a few times she nearly had to go into hospital. She had to start using a nebuliser 4 times a day and her ability to do anything decreased so much that my dad officially became her carer. She began sleeping downstairs in the armchair as she couldn't breathe properly when she was lying in bed and she began to panic so much that she decided the only thing to do was sleep in the living room in the chair. She lost a hell of a lot of weight and she just generally looked so unwell. If we had to go anywhere she would have to stop every 10 seconds because she couldn't breathe when she walked, which meant our usual family gatherings and meals which we used to do together a lot started to slowly disappear. It was awful watching her go from this strong independent confident woman to someone I no longer recognised and who had to rely on someone else so much. I would cry all the time to Craig saying I had lost my mum even though she was still alive. It was heartbreaking.

Then there was also the fact I no longer spoke to my best friend. The girl who had been my best friend for the last 15 years. There was no argument, no big fall out. It was just one of those where we just drifted apart, and other people got involved and stirred the pot between us which pushed us even further apart. We had fallen out towards the end of 2015, then at the start of 2016 began speaking again and throughout 2016 we seemed closer than ever. Then stuff happened and the last time I saw her was the end of August. After that I didn't see her for nearly 2 years. At this point I am talking about in this blog post, it was just on the year mark of us not really being friends. Again, it was so upsetting and a year on, I still shed a lot of tears over it. It had gotten to a point where I just didn't think it could ever be fixed. We both had different lives now, friends and family had opinions and I didn't want to cause any arguments or fall outs, so I just tried to accept the fact that someone I loved so much was no longer going to be in my life, and the girl I had wanted as godmother to my children, who I wanted stood next to me on my wedding day, who was like a sister to me was not going to be in my life anymore. It broke my heart, but again I put on a front and acted like it was for the best. I would say things and act like it didn't bother me and I was better off without her anyway, when in reality I was devastated over it and missed her so much.

The result was I started to have mild panic attacks. I definitely didn't have them to the degree of some people, but I would definitely describe them as a mild panic attack. I would get pains in my chest, I would shake, I would be breathing as if I had just ran a marathon and I would just cry for hours where I was so overwhelmed and panicking about what I was going to do, all the changes I was experiencing and how I was going to get through everything and it would make me just want to run away and hide. It was an extremely dark time in my life and without Craig, I don't know how I would have managed.

I got made redundant in November 2017, with no job to go to, no idea where my life was headed and I was on my 11th month without a single job interview offer. I was absolutely terrified of what lay ahead. Then out of nowhere I got a phone call to attend a job interview for a company based in town. I was absolutely thrilled but so nervous. I went for my interview and came out so deflated. I had barely answered any questions properly due to nerves and was convinced I had messed it up. A few days later though I was offered the job and a month after I had been made redundant I was back in work again! This is it I thought, this is where my life turns around and things start going my way again. This company sounded amazing, and I thought my career was about to take off in this fab new business. Unfortunately though, that's not what happened and the new job I was so excited for turned out to be the job of nightmares.
I started the job at the start of December and straight away I hated it. The company was a shambles, and the staff were just awful. The team I was put on was extremely cliquey and no one bothered to speak to me or tried to make me feel welcome. I tried to speak to them and get to know them and make friends and got nothing back. I was there for 3 months and in those 3 months I sat and watched while they emailed each other talking about me in the emails and I felt so uncomfortable sitting with them. I sat with one girl off my team on my lunch break once and she actually got up and went and sat on another table. I sat in between two girls who would talk over me when I had my headphones on (we wore them as part of the job), and if I took them off and tried to join in, they would stop talking and put their headphones back on, then when I put mine back on, they would take them off again and start talking again. I would ask them how their weekends were and get one word answers back. In the whole time I worked there I don't think anyone asked me a single question about myself. It was my 32nd birthday while I was there and not one person knew. My team leader was on holiday for my first day, and when she came back in on my second day she didn't even acknowledge that I was there. It took her hours to even say hello to me or ask me if I was OK. She didn't speak to me properly the whole time I worked there. I don't think I had one none work related conversation with her. Instead of taking me to one side and speaking to me about any issues she had with me, she would email the whole team and make sly digs about me in the emails but of course not name any names, however it was completely obvious who she was talking about. I felt like I was back in school and being made to feel about 3 inches tall by this clique of god awful girls. They would laugh and cheer when people got let go. They would all be laughing and whispering when I came back from the toilet and then suddenly go quiet. I had absoloutley no training whatsoever in the job and basically trained myself, then watched another girl start 2 months after me and get loads of one on one training. Then I was expected to meet an absolutely unattainable target and then moaned at when I made a mistake which I wouldn't have made with sufficient training. I was again, crying constantly, feeling sick with dread every morning and every night. I would get home or go to Craig's and be this shell of the person I was before, grumpy and emotionally drained and tired all the time. It was a living nightmare and when I got let go in February I was so relieved that I didn't have to go back there anymore. As a result though, again my confidence completely plummeted. I was terrified of starting a new job again as I was so worried it would be the same as this one. My self confidence completely disappeared.

After leaving that job I signed onto Universal Credit and it was the first time I was seeking any kind of benefits for being out of work for 12 years. It was such a hard thing to do, I felt like a failure again and like a bum and I was so embarassed every week going for my meeting. I never had any confidence in myself and couldn't see any light at the end of the tunnel but even so, I didn't let it become me and I was determined to get a job and started applying for anything and everything that seemed vaguely related to my past work experience. Nothing I applied for came back positive, but then once day, 6 weeks after I had left the other job, I got a phone call off a company saying they had seen my CV on a job site and would love to get me in. I was excited but also extremely aware of the fact that I was excited about the previous job and look how that turned out. I went to my interview and a few hours later they invited me back for a second interview. A few days later I had my second interview and the next day I got offered the job. The happiness that I no longer had to go the job centre was unbelievable and I was so happy I would be getting back into work.

That's when things finally started to look up for me. I started that job in April and it's now October and I am so much happier there. The difference between the job from hell and my new job is so drastic. The people I work with were all so welcoming when I started and took so much interest in getting to know me and helping me to settle in. They took me out for a welcome to the team meal, I have got a thank you card off my team leader for work I have done, I am praised and thanked for my work all the time and trusted to do some of the trickiest tasks we have. Everyone is so lovely, when I'm not well they buy me medicine and look after me. If I'm not looking very happy they ask me if I'm OK. They support me and don't treat me like I'm a piece of dirt. It proved to me that one bad experience doesn't mean every other experience afterwards will be the same and my self confidence, though it's never sky high, has definitely improved massively.

As well as finally being settled and secure in a new job, my mums health hasn't gotten any worse in months. She's never going to be healthy, but it's definitely a good thing that it's just plateaued now and she isn't getting any worse. She has days where she can do loads and she seems so much more  herself.
My best friend is also back in my life after 2 years apart. We started talking again here and there around the time I was in the job from hell, and then finally after months of umming and ahhing, we met up and are finally getting our friendship back on track. We celebrated her birthday together at the end of September and I couldn't be happier that she's back in my life!  Sometimes even things you think you can never fix can be fixed and I'm so happy I was true to myself and decided to do what makes me happy instead of worrying about everyone else for a change because her coming back into my life has been one of the best things ever and it's made me so happy.
Another friend, my oldest lifelong friend, has also come back into my life recently who I hadn't seen for around 5 years, and even though it's because of a bad situation on her end, it's made me so so happy to have her back also.
Things with Craig are also going extremely well and we are thinking of moving in together next year which excites me more than anything in the world. He's the best thing to ever happen to me and we've just hit 18 months together, I couldn't be happier than I am when I am with him <3

The thing with worrying is, it doesn't change anything. I wish that was something I could take on board and my brain could process but unfortunately I can't and I will always be a worrier. But it's something I am definitely going to work on. Bad times don't last. Same as happy times don't last. This time last year I was in a really dark and miserable place, and here I am a year later, the happiest I have been in as long as I can remember. I am fully aware that this won't last, and am I anxious about it? Yes. But I know that when bad times do come again, they won't last, just like before, and the times before that when life hasn't been going too well. I will get through them, and the sun will come out again, and happiness will come back, just like this time.

The difference in where I was mentally and emotionally this time last year to now is so huge. I feel like me again. I still have days where I am anxious and panic. When there's a lot going on in work, or when I have to go to social events where I don't really know anyone, or when I have a headache and go on Google and end up convinced I am dying (Hello hypochondriac Sarah!). But that's never going to change, and that's who I am. I can sit here though and say that I am happy. And that is a great feeling :)

To anyone going through a bad time or who are in a dark place, just know that it won't last forever and with strength and time the bad times will pass and your days will be filled with light again. <3


Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Sarah's Life | 1 Year.

07-04-18 marks 1 whole year with my Craig.
"Every once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairytale"

In 3 days me and my boyfriend hit the big 1 year mark! *does a happy dance*
Races Night seeing the Kaiser Chiefs May 2017      |      My cousins 18th Birthday Party June 2017

I am as a person very cheesy and very lovey dovey. I am also very very impatient, which is why this blog post has appeared 3 days before the actual anniversary haha! Some of this blog post is going to be a big massive block of cheese in blog post form, mushier than a tin of mushy peas and to be honest, mainly just for me to celebrate a year with my boyfriend and as something I can look back on and smile at in the future. If you're not into mushy posts, I highly recommend you log off now and don't read any further because loooooord am I going to get mushy and you may throw up! But if you do decide to read it, I hope that you enjoy it. :) (but do make sure you have a bucket next to you, just as a precaution...)

Before Craig I'd had some truly awful relationships and been in some very toxic situations with boys and as a result of that, all trust I had in men was gone, my self confidence was at rock bottom and all faith I had that I was going to find someone was shattered and I just came to the conclusion that all my life was going to be was me, myself and I.

Craig is someone who I've known of for 10 years. I never actually knew him, but I knew who he was and I was aware of him. He's someone I had worked alongside and seen in the corridor every week for the past decade but never actually spoken to. I thought he was really good looking, but I always thought he was SO snotty! He's a very confident lad and very very chatty, you would always seem him chatting to all different people all the time. Over the years he spoke to a few of my friends, but I would get blanked. It got to the point where I would be in the corridor with 3 of my lad mates who he knew from the gym and he would chat to them and not even acknowledge I was there! Because of that, I knew him as the gorgeous but snotty lad from the other company haha! I just thought he really didn't like me at all. He does know this as well. Turns out he wasn't being snotty, he was just shy around me! Something I never thought I would say about Craig!

I was on overtime one Saturday and so was he. That day he came over to speak to someone on my team he knew. He mentioned his Fitbit he had gotten for Christmas and I got brought into the conversation because I'd gotten one too. I heard my name and asked what they were talking about and Craig just stood there like a rabbit in headlights and blurted out "FITBIT!" (I am howling thinking back to this!!), and then I went on to ramble to him about how I didn't like mine and when I was at the gym it didn't record my steps properly and all this random stuff while Craig just stood there looking a bit bewildered.  He then just mumbled something, said something to the girls and shuffled off. Great conversation Craig! Haha!!
Before he had came over we had been talking about my none existent love life (a favourite topic of conversation on my team on a daily basis!) and afterwards one of them was like "Oh Sarah I think Craig would be lovely for you!" I was a bit confused and said to the girls that he definitely hated me and they were like don't be silly! Then the same girl was like I'll have a chat to him! I just went into pure panic telling her not to because it was pointless and I'd just end up embarrassed, what 31 year old gets their mate to go and talk to a boy for them?! But when she has an idea there's no stopping her. So for the next few weeks I was going into work every day wondering if she had spoken to him or not.  A few weeks later she said she had pulled him aside and mentioned to him that she thought he should ask me out. I was not happy one bit, why had she done that! He hated me and now I was going to look like an absolute idiot! Thanks a bunch! Another few weeks went by and he still hadn't mentioned anything. I had seen him a few times and he seemed a bit friendlier but nothing drastic, just the odd hello and carried on walking past, so I just came to the conclusion that was that, he hadn't been interested, and forgot about it.
Then on 24th March at precisely 2:10pm (I remember this because it was just before I went on my afternoon break), I'm sitting at my desk having a heated debate with the lad sitting opposite me about the film Face Off (for the record I hate that film and he loved it, I was not happy). I get the fright of my life when Craig comes over and plonks himself down on the seat next to me. He still to this day laughs about my face and how much I jumped when I turned around and saw it was him and not the lad who normally sat there.
It didn't go great I'll be honest. He introduced himself as if we had never met before which I thought was hilarious, "Hi I'm Craig..." to my response "erm yeah I no..." and then for a good 10 minutes Craig rambled on about how he had spoken to Tracy and she had said what a lovely, funny girl I was and she thought he should ask me out. Half way through his speech though, a fella he worked with came over and sat with us. The fella just sat there looking at us waiting for Craig to finish what he was saying. I genuinely thought he had come in to watch Craig ask me out and probably went the colour of a plum, but turns out he just needed some help on work and had no idea what he was interrupting haha. What a way to spoil a moment mate! When the fella had scarpered, poor Craig just looked mortified and apologised and then gave me an origami bird he had made with his phone number on and asked me out on a date in front of my whole office! All I could think was oh my god this lad has got some balls!! And is this actually happening! I couldn't believe he had actually just asked me out! With an Origami bird! In front of my boss, and everyone I work with!
1st date hair, makeup & Outfit - 7th April 2017
3rd date outfit April 2017 & 4th date and our 1st picture together April 2017 :)
I was terrified, convinced myself he had only done it because Tracy told him to and he didn't actually like me that much. I was scared to put myself out there again, scared of being hurt again, and intimidated because he had a well posher voice than me haha! And I put off texting him until the Sunday night two days later, aaaand he never responded. I felt so ashamed! But then 2 days later he text me back saying he hadn't seen it. Turns out he is a complete technophobe and there was probably a better chance of reaching him by carrier pigeon than on his mobile phone! He barely used it, and it's like something from 1991, it doesn't even have a camera on it haha! After that initial text he promised me he would change and he actually started using it more and more each day. After two weeks of texting we met up and on the 7th April, and with me absolutely crapping my pants, sulking about not being at Ladies Day and dosed up the eyeballs on Beechams thanks to a rotten cold haha, we went on our first date and went and played Crazy Golf in Jungle Rumble in town and went to the Roxy Ballroom for a few drinks.

That's the night my life completely changed.
I'm not going to sit here and say the beginning was all plain sailing, it wasn't. The first date was amazing, I was a smitten kitten straight from the get go. The first half an hour I was so nervous, which meant my mouth worked faster than my brain and for some reason I decided 20 minutes in to randomly start a conversation about Jessie J grabbing her lady bits in the Do It Like A Dude video and repeatedly saying the word vagina, which Craig found absolutely hilarous. I think I was a bit delirious from the Beechams haha. It was the best date I have ever been on though. He made me laugh so much, there wasn't a single awkward silence, I felt so comfortable around him and he made me feel like I had a million butterflies trying to get out my stomach. It seemed like we had only been out an hour or two and suddenly it was 1:30am and we had to call it a night as he was in work at 7am the next day. I told him so much that night and was so open and he told me all kinds too, I felt like I could tell him anything and I felt like we got really close really fast and after just a few hours, I felt like I had known him for years. I won the Crazy Golf as well, which I was extremely happy about! He put his cardigan around me when we were walking for a taxi because I was cold and he put his arm around me as we walked to the taxi rank and for this first time in a very long time, I felt sparks flying everywhere. I was so excited, but also really scared. I had let my guard down before and got extremely hurt, I didn't want it to happen again.
We arranged our second date for a week later and went into Southport and went bowling, on the arcades and for food. The second date was a bit of a disaster. The week leading up to it I had been so giddy telling everyone how much I liked him. He had left a flower he had made on my desk the morning after our date and when I went in on the Monday morning and saw it I was like an excitable teenager (I still have it now on my mirror in my bedroom), but then on the day of the date, halfway through I basically went into the state of mind where I convinced myself that I didn't like him, certain things were annoying me and I cut the night short. I made him feel so awful to the point where he went home and comfort ate a whole tub of ice cream and I went home and told my mum that I wasn't going to see him again. I basically freaked out half way through and then put a wall up through fear of being hurt again and made up stupid excuses for not seeing him again like his voice annoyed me or he was too nice, none of which were true. Despite the 2nd date disaster, he still carried on texting me every day and trying to get me to go on a 3rd date, which I dodged every time it was mentioned and eventually he just asked me outright if I wanted to see him again or not because he really liked me but he hated games. I was honest and said I wasn't sure and he said to go out with him one more time. If I didn't like him or want to see him again after it fair enough, he just wanted one more chance. I thought after him chasing me for a week and a half and him actually being open and honest asking me what was going on which is so refreshing these days, I had to give him one more chance, so I went. And it was the best decision I ever made. I went into that date convincing myself it was a waste of time, and as soon as he walked towards me while I waited outside the Alma de Cuba, I literally turned right back into that smitten girl I was on the first date. He looked so gorgeous and once the date got going, I just couldn't believe I ever had doubts, and that's how I've felt ever since. We had the best night and I haven't had a single doubt since that he is the one for me. In all honesty, I knew it half an hour into the first date. But damage from past relationships made me guarded and the fear of being hurt made me nearly throw away something so special. I'm so glad I didn't end up letting fear stop me from being happy.

Overnight stay at Leasowe Castle & a day in New Brighton June 2017

BBQ in Otterspool July 2017

Log Cabin July 2017

The last year with him has been the best year of my life. In so many ways it's been the worst but him being in my life has outweighed any bad that's happened. I've lost friends, I've lost two jobs, my mum's health has really deteriorated causing major changes in our family and household and my dad had a health scare but through it all, he's been the light I needed and he has always been there to make me feel like everything was OK. He hugs me and I feel like I'm safe from anything.

We've done so much and been through so much together in such a short amount of time. Some of my favourite memories from the last year are the little things we have done together like walking along the beach together chatting about nothing, or having a BBQ down at Otterspool.  Along with those times, we had an amazing New Year in the Lakes, we went on our first night away together to Leasowe Castle and had the best weekend of my life, we climbed Snowdon, we went on the funniest weekend away to a log cabin which we will always remember as 'Tarmac Weekend', we have been to theatre shows, cinema experiences, gigs, the zoo, parties, museums, seen Blackpool lights, saw the Coca Cola truck roll into Liverpool; We have just had so much fun together no matter what we are doing. Let's just not mention the Chinese New Year celebrations though shall we... haha!
We're not the perfect couple, we don't agree on certain things and sometimes our views on situations are different, we argue from time to time and get ratty with each other (mainly when it's a certain time of month and I'm hormonal), but we get each other, we bounce off each other, we fancy each other rotten, and we laugh together every single day. We have formed the best little team together and I love it.

Climbing Snowdon September 2017
Pumpkin Picking October 2017  |  Chester Zoo November 2017
Coca Cola Truck December 2017  |  Polaroid from our first Christmas together December 2017

He is so kind, caring, generous, funny, silly, stupid, honest, sensitive, sentimental, and unapologetically himself and I love everything about him. He goes out of his way to make sure I'm OK, always puts me first and just treats me like an absolute queen. Not to mention he's got the most gorgeous smile ever and I just think he's so gorgeous. (His legs are also GREAT!) He dances with me even though he has no rhythm at all, he duets with me in the car to cheesy pop songs, we have so many little private jokes that we laugh our heads off at day in day out, we teach each other new things and open each other up to new experiences all the time, he puts up with my road rage like an absolute pro, he would happily freeze to death and give me his coat even if I have one on just so I'm not cold, he carries my handbag for me because it's always so heavy and he doesn't want my arm to ache, he walks on the side closest to the road so he is closer to the cars, when I don't like my food he gives me his and he eats mine instead which come on, is that not just husband material right there?!

New Year in the Lakes December 2017

My Birthday celebrations January 2018

Our first Valentines February 2018

I always used to try and explain to my mum what I wanted in a lad and I thought the person I described just didn't exist, but Craig is absolutely everything I wanted. He is the most loyal person I have ever met, he has morals you don't find in many lads these days (honestly watching things like TOWIE and Made in Chelsea make me realise exactly how lucky I've got!), I trust him more than anyone in the world and he's so respectful. It feels good to be in a relationship where you never have to question anything, you aren't panicking he is talking to someone else and you aren't arguing like cat and dog every day. He stands up for himself and isn't afraid to voice what he believes in, he always has my back and he tells me every single day that I am beautiful. He has helped me become the person I used to be again, and he has helped me be Sarah again. I lost myself along the way and became a person I didn't really like, but he has brought the old me back out and everyone tells me all the time. Even a team leader I had pulled me aside and told me that since I had been with him, the old Sarah had come back. He has done more for me than he will ever realise. He has helped me to be comfortable and confident in the person I am and not ashamed or embarrassed to be myself. I couldn't imagine my life without him. Here's to many more years laughing through life together. 

My Dad's Birthday meal February 2018  |  Delamere Forest March 2018

"The best kind of people are the ones who come into your life and 
make you see the sun where you once saw the clouds.
The People that believe in you so much that you start to believe in you too. 
The people that love you, simply for being you. 
The once in a lifetime kind of people." 

I finally found my lobster.
Scrag 4eva! I.D.A.T ;)