September crept in slowly, bringing with it a chill in the air.
September crept in slowly, bringing with it a chill in the air.
On the last bank holiday toward the end of August, Gareth and I decided to make the most of the late Summer sunshine and take our annual trip down to the New Forest in Dorset.
We are very fortunate to be able to visit the New Forest a few times a year because Gareth’s parents own a stationary caravan in a large holiday park down there. The New Forest is a very beautiful place and we always enjoy long, quiet weekends there spent walking through woodland or watching the sea lap against the shore. I have so many unique and special memories of Dorset and our caravan holidays but strangely I have never blogged about a trip or captured any of those moments with my camera.
On this particular bank holiday weekend I was determined that would change and I would finally share some photographs and words with you before the Summer slipped away. Who knows, perhaps this will inspire you to take a trip to the dreamy New Forest and enjoy a peaceful time there for yourself…
This Summer it has been very quiet over at Pretty Little Finch. You’d be forgiven for thinking that I simply had nothing to share or write about, but in reality it has been a pretty action-packed few months. This Summer (for the most part) I simply decided to just live without getting the perfect shot and analysing every experience in a detailed 1,000 + word post. So yes, I’ve been documenting the good (and the bad) days over on Instagram, but I haven’t shared much of it over on this blog.
Spring is finally here and I have been enjoying it as much as I can; walks down blossom-lined streets, long days spent outside in the sunshine and even the odd BBQ thrown in for good measure.
The past few weeks have felt really good – productive and positive. But I have been so busy I’ve barely had a moment to stop and reflect on it all – and as a result I’ve been blogging much less than I usually would. Today I thought I’d post some all-important life updates and just check in with where I’m at. So grab a cup of tea and your favourite snack – I have so much to share with you!
October has been one of the busiest months of my life. Between moving house, working full-time and taking part in Blogtober, I’ve barely had the time to process it all. That said, it has been an exciting month – full of new and happy memories. As it is slowly coming to a close (I can hardly believe how quickly the month has passed!) I thought I would share my favourite things with you.
I lead a busy life and, as such, tend to become prone to bouts of stress. Combine that with my anxiety and you have a recipe for disaster. Because of this it’s really important for me to take time out at least once a week to focus on my mental health and have a nice pamper evening. Winding down and treating myself helps to calm me and lift my spirits so it’s something I always make time for.
On Saturday we finally completed our move. Although this has been an exciting time, it obviously hasn’t been without stress; we have found ourselves incredibly busy packing, moving, unpacking, setting up the house etc. In fact we’ve been so busy that I have barely had time to sit down for five minutes. Finally, on Sunday night (tonight!) I found a couple of hours to relax and have some “me time”. Here I am sharing my perfect pamper evening…
It’s Thursday 12th and I have managed to rope my fiancé in to co-writing todays Blogtober post with me. And guess what? It’s a couples tag!
In my October Bucket List post I mentioned that Gareth and I are getting ready to move in to our very first house together. Finally, after weeks of uncertainty we have exchanged contracts and have a move in date. As of Friday 13th October, the house will belong to us.
As this is such a huge and important step in our lives I thought now would be a good time to reflect on everything that’s going on. (more…)
I recently wrote a piece for Girl Planet magazine, detailing my experiences with mental health and self-care. In that piece I spoke about how combining two of my greatest passions, nature and photography, helped me to cope with my anxiety. I am a firm believer that nature is one of the greatest healers; that it can do wonders for a range of mental health illnesses. No, it’s not a magical cure (or an alternative to medicine) but I really do believe it has a place in day-to-day life and should be a part of all of our self-care routines, where possible.
Here’s why I think nature is good for your mental health…
It’s been a little while since I wrote a personal blog post and today I thought I would just check in with where I’m at. I like to reflect on what I’m doing every now and then as it’s good to look back and see how far I’ve come and acknowledge what I have achieved. I don’t think I do it often enough!
The other day I found myself feeling really down and depressed about my blog. I had been writing for over a year, putting a lot of time and effort in to good quality posts but yet not attracting as many views and readers as I thought I should be.
Once again it’s time to wave goodbye to the past year, set sights on the future and do a bit of reflecting on what has been. It’s gone by in such a flash, I can barely believe it is 2017!
For many it seems 2016 has been a bit of a disappointing year and certainly we’ve lost some of the greatest icons of our time. But on a personal, selfish level – 2016 has been pretty good to me. Of course, as always it has had its peaks and troughs. Some of the darker moments have been tough to get through but if I’m looking at it as a whole – it’s definitely been a positive year overall.
In 2016 I visited Paris and explored the catacombs, rode a carousel in front of the Eiffel tower and took a river boat tour at night, visited Rome and stood in awe in the Colosseum and wandered through the Sistern chapel, visited the Nuremburg Christmas markets in Germany, holidayed in Dorset and built more beautiful memories, added the quails and a hedgehog to our ever expanding feathered (and quilled) family, turned 27 (eek) and celebrated it in style at Bird World! Visited Kew Gardens at long last, picked pumpkins and took a Frightmove house tour at Halloween. Visited Tropical wings and took lots of fun days out. Ran a fun race for life, and spent lots of time wandering around RHS gardens, country parks, woodlands and fields!
In short, I had a lot of fun and made some wonderful memories.
Last year I set my all important new years resolutions and wrote them down on this blog. If you can’t be bothered to skip back and see what they were, I will summarise here:
I decided that I wanted to keep my goals somewhat vague and thus, more achievable. From that list I can see I completed three out of the five which isn’t bad going at all. (I think we could call it a success.) These were:
Read more – 2016 was the year I rekindled my love affair with books. As a child and a teen my nose was constantly stuck in a book. I devoured novel after novel and spent many happy hours laying in the garden or in bed absolutely absorbed in a story. But, sadly as I got a little older, and my anxiety got a little worse I found it much harder to read. I started to read chic lit as it didn’t require much attention and was generally a ‘happy’ topic which helped me forget for a while. Then it fizzled out and I didn’t read at all. Reading is important though and I always wanted to get back to it. In 2016 I thought I’d start with a new genre I hadn’t tried before; crime/thriller. It totally worked! This year I have read 22 books – not bad going at all! (and I’m hooked on the suspense and plot twists!)
Be kinder – This is something else I have really worked at on a personal level in 2016. I have tried to pay more attention to the scenarios that pop up in everyday life where an act of kindness is needed or wanted. Sometimes this has been buying food/tea for the homeless, other times lending a listening ear to friends. I won’t list all of the kind things I have done this year as this kind of defeats the object, but I think I have been the best me to others that I could have been.
Keep doing more of what I love – Again, another thing I worked really hard at. Although, not really work when you’re enjoying yourself! This year I have kept up my blog and writing. I have kept up going out and taking photographs. I have kept up adventures. And I have kept growing my family of feathered friends too!
So that was pretty positive. What didn’t I quite achieve though?
Learn to drive – Whilst I haven’t completed this one I have taken good steps towards it. Last year I had around 18 hours of lessons (and I can technically drive a car now, just not legally – or if I want to park anywhere!) So this wasn’t quite a write off. I did have problems with finding a decent instructor though, and my anxiety did get in the way somewhat. This year I will be looking for a new instructor, a new fresh start and I WILL learn to drive!
Get down to my goal weight – Okay, this one was a total BUST. At one point I did actually lose about half a stone and I was on a really good fitness and health kick. But then I slumped. So maybe I just wasn’t ready for it at the time.
So, what are my goals for 2017 this year? Well, I think I want them to be a little less vague this year:
I also hope to do a lot more with my time. I really want to visit Cornwall and the wonderful Eden project (this has been on a to do list for a long time now) I also really want to stay in the Lake District, and have some more bird flying/experience days as those always make me happy.
On a personal level I want to build my health back up again and as such I will be attending regular therapy sessions, trying to get to the gym a little more, and practice my stress relief yoga.
All in all I want 2017 to be a year of growth for me.
If you’ve read through this exceedingly long post – congratulations! What are your New Years resolutions/ goals for this year?
I find that as I get older, I am more open about my mental illness. It’s not something I generally tell people when I first meet them, or bring up in discussion but it’s not something I go to great lengths to hide anymore. This past week I have been feeling particularly down. I’m unwell at the moment so I think that has had its’ part to play, but generally the mood has not been good and I have found myself feeling really upset.
One thing I find that helps to lift my mood is walking. I know they say exercise releases endorphins (and I’m sure it does) but I don’t particularly subscribe to intense cardio sessions when I feel miserable. What is more manageable however, is a nice walk.
Since moving back to Essex I have been tremendously lucky in what I have around me. There are beautiful thick woodlands and country parks that sprawl across acres. I have explored many rambling paths and stood at the edges of many glittering lakes. I have fed deer, ducks and watched colourful birds. I know I’m lucky to live so nearby to so many wonderful places, so I try to take advantage of that as much as possible. Most weekends I am outdoors.
The other day was not a good day for me. I was feeling particularly unwell and down in the dumps after finishing my day of working from home. However, the sun had made a rare appearance which did seem to brighten things a little. Gareth and I decided to drive down to Chalkwell to take a walk by the sea. My aunt had mentioned it in conversation at the weekend, and I had fond memories of lurking about in the beachy mud over there when I was a child. We got in the car and made the 40 minute trip down.
When we got there the tide was out, but the sun shone brilliantly and I could feel myself relaxing and starting to feel happier. We took a long walk on the empty beach, searching for sea glass and revelling in the quietness. Although it was not warm, I felt fine in a jumper and jacket and I very much enjoyed feeling the sun on the back of my head. I find that the nicer the scenery the more I start to relax. The longer I walk the more my problems seem to melt away also, almost as if I’m leaving them behind me. I have always liked the seaside, and although it may sound strange, to me it is more enjoyable during the colder months when it is empty yet beautiful. When other people can’t interfere with my experience.
We walked for a long time, taking photographs and enjoying the beautiful views. We walked all the way up to Southend where we stopped for a cold beer. By the time we reached Southend the sun had set, and it was dark and much colder. The walk back to the car was chilly to say the least, but as my legs began to silently burn, I felt a lot more positive in my mind.
Sometimes I think when you’re feeling rotten, the best thing to do is to do something else. To remove yourself from a situation or a place, and to take yourself outside where it’s easier to breathe and you can think more clearly and freely. Empty or quiet spaces are really what I’d recommend for people feeling stressed and frustrated. The woods can be really good for this. I find that a lot of people are dissuaded from walking around the winter months because of the cold, but I think it’s the perfect time to get out there. I really enjoyed my walk by the sea, and think that I will go again before it becomes too busy to be a relaxing experience.