Sunday, 1 January 2017

A look back at 2016

  • 2016; what a year! We’ve seen surprising election results, a real problem in the refugee crisis and more celebrities have died than I could possibly count. But it’s important to remember the good things too, because globally, there have been many. Environmentally, we’ve witnessed a plane travel around the world using only solar energy, and volunteers in India planted 50 million trees in one day.

Sometimes it’s so easy to focus on the negatives. I’ve learnt this year that this will only bring you down. Life’s about making your own happiness, regardless of any irritating, disappointing or crazy decisions made by others.

So, despite everything that’s gone on globally and even personally that’s got me down a little, here’s a summary of why 2016 has actually been a pretty good year:

  •  I’ve explored. I’ve visited Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy. I’ve tasted new foods. I’ve walked, cycled, rowed and punted miles and miles, taking in the sights and the cultures.

  •  I’ve formed my own business, with an online shop that went live this week. You can see my bits and bobs here.

  • I've created some deliiiicious dishes in the kitchen

  • I got my first car and with that came the freedom to see more.
  • I’ve survived, maybe even thrived, during a challenging year at work. This included graduating from my PGCE and being awarded ‘outstanding’ status.

  • I went to my first ever music festival and had an amazing time.

  • And I've had some pretty great people keeping me company along the way.

On a teaching course I went on in the autumn, I heard about Covey’s circles: the circle of concern and the circle of influence. He stated that we should focus on improving issues that are within our circle of influence. Things will happen that we can’t do much about. Yes, it’s annoying when it does. You can grumble about it for a while. But if you can’t fix it, stop worrying. Make your day better by concentrating on things that you can change.

Reflecting now, I’ve not been the best at that this year. In my job, in the political spectrum, in my personal life, I’ve let things get on top of me that I can’t solve. I wasted time ranting and raging about things that actually mean very little in the long run, rather than getting on with my lengthy to-do lists, thus creating even more stress.

In 2017, I want that to change.

My key resolution, the one that underpins everything I want to be and achieve moving forwards, is to focus on what’s in my circle of influence.

Sure, these can be segmented further:

I really should lose weight and get fitter. I’ll hopefully find an exercise I enjoy to help with that.

I want to build my business up further, expanding my range in terms of both designs and products.

I need, for my sanity really, to stop letting work take over, and build in more time for myself to do both the things I love and the stuff that needs doing, like maybe keeping the house a bit tidier.

I hope I’ll be able to see friends and family more, spending quality time with those I love and ringing people for a catch up rather than texting 2 weeks late.

Ultimately though, I need to realise that these are all things that I can change. These are things I need to focus on putting right. The other stuff, that I spend far too long complaining about sometimes, needs forgetting. I think I’ll find it hard, but eventually, the positivity will win. The drive and motivation to see the brighter side will come out in force, and I’ll realise that I’m happier when I look at life like it’s a cup that’s half full, not half empty.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

A Weekend in Venice

Gosh it's been a long time since I've posted on here! It's been a crazily busy year teaching, but I've made time for plenty of trips away in those long school holidays to relax, unwind and see somewhere new. I thought it was about time to start blogging again and share my thoughts on some of the different places I've explored.

I'll start with the most recent. I've just come back from a lovely long weekend in Venice with some old school friends. I visited several spots in Italy a few summers ago (including Como, Milan, Florence, Siena, Pisa and Rome), which was a fantastic trip! However, I hadn't ever been to Venice, and it was always somewhere I had been interested in seeing.

We flew to Treviso airport, which is further out than Marco Polo and requires a coach rather than a waterbus to take you to Venice. Upon arrival, I was rather shocked (and concerned about my bank balance!) when I saw that a single ticket for travelling around cost €7.50, even though our planned journey to our AirBnB was only 10 minutes! We decided to walk instead, which took us through the maze of Venice's 'roads', which I would only describe as alley ways. We definitely got lost, but it was a great way to see what navigating the city is like.

After being greeted by our AirBnb host, we wandered just 3 minutes from our apartment where we sat down for pizza 1/6 that I enjoyed... (a friendly warning: do not weigh yourself after a trip to Italy).  Our accommodation was in a perfect location, meaning that this restaurant gave us beautiful views of the Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal. The pizza, Prosecco and ice cream consumed that evening set me up nicely for the rest of the weekend.

Highlights of the trip

  • Going up San Marco Campanile (the Bell Tower of the Basilica), which gives incredible views across Venice, the lagoon and the surrounding area

  • Hotel Danieli Terrazza is a restaurant which is part of the famous 5 star hotel looking over the lagoon. Between 3 and 6:30pm you can enjoy a drink on the roof terrace, offering beautiful views. The drinks are rather £££ but the views made it worth a visit

  • A gondola ride. Obviously a must! We got ours about 5 minutes walk north from San Marco square, and the 45 minute journey took us past Casanova's house, along the lagoon, under the Bridge of Sighs and along many of the beautiful canals showing sights we wouldn't have otherwise seen

  • Burano Island. For this, I was happy to pay to go on the waterbus (we paid €20 for a 24 hour ticket, and later took a trip along the Grand Canal). The trip takes around 40 minutes and the island is the most colourful I've seen. It's small, but a mix of restaurants, lace and glass shops and tourists getting snap happy taking photos of the rainbow houses. The Huffington Post describes it as "The cheeriest little island [which] will lift your soul," and after a few too many Proseccos and Limoncellos the night before, I can vouch that the island fixes hangovers too      

Isn't it beautiful?! I'd recommend Venice to anyone wanting a more chilled out city break. I can't stand just lying on a beach all day, but Venice gives the perfect combination of relaxation and things to see and do. I think the lack of cars really adds to the relaxation, and all you can smell is seafood and pizza. I'll certainly be going back!

Thank you for reading, I'll be posting more soon! X

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