It’s my final year in review post of 2019 – and it’s also the end of a (very interesting) decade…!
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How scary is that – the end of the 2010s? The decade that saw the rise of influencers, who in 2010 were known as bloggers (I still identify as the latter). The obsession with selfies and lip fillers and mahoosive eyebrows. Things becoming “Instagrammable”. For me, I’ll remember it as the decade we became doggy parents and moved to the home and town we now love.
So here’s my end-of-year round up of my very average – but much loved and appreciated – life from the last four months… no trips on yachts or fancy restaurants for this
influencer blogger. Just updates on my home life, career highlights working with some great brands and regular stuff like what I’ve been watching (and loving) on TV.
And maybe – just maybe – some crazy hound news. Enjoy!
Disclosure: I have been paid to work on the campaigns I have discussed here but this post is not sponsored by the brands involved (click here for my full disclosure).
My year in review so far: Life generally
Well I said there’d be some crazy hound news, and judging by that first picture I guess that just about sums up our beautiful Suki! In the last review of the year post we were on the verge of (hopefully) adopting her, and the doggy gods must have been looking down on us – and her – as she came to live with us at the end of September.
It’s been AMAZING.
She has done so much to mend our broken hearts after we lost Riley and although she has a lot of traits that our gorgeous boy had, she’s definitely got her own (hilarious) personality. Suki is typical of a greyhound: zoomies, paws in your face, flapattacks and more. Her unending need for love and attention – and the ability to dish it out – is just wonderful. We have a few small issues which need ironing out with a little patience and training (probably left over from her days as a racer and perhaps how she was treated), but it’s nothing we’re worried about.
We’re so happy to be doggy parents again, and it’s thanks to Riley being the most wonderful boy ever and giving us the ability to open our hearts and show us that we needed to do this both for ourselves and for a doggy that needed a home. Happy, happy times.
Mary Quant at the V&A Museum
Like the Christian Dior exhibition that I saw in the summer, I used my V&A membership to see the Mary Quant exhibition at the V&A (Victoria & Albert Museum) in London. Although not as huge as Dior, it was just as fascinating and nostalgic. It included not only clothes but also her makeup and accessories collections – I remember the spherical bottles of nail polish and the packets of Mary Quant tights that my mum had in the 70s with the big daisy logo on them. As you can probably imagine there was SO much of it that I’d wear now; check out the cream tracksuit and all the orange/brown outfits (above)!
It’s on until 16 February 2020, so do go and see it if you get a chance.
Holidays (well, weekend trips)
No real holidays for us this year as we had a lot on our plate what with losing Riley and adopting Suki. But at the end of September Keith and I did have a wonderful long weekend in Ilfracombe, North Devon. This was actually tagged onto the end of another week I spent at the Slimmeria detox and fitness retreat that I first went to in Autumn 2018 and June this year – there was one week of absolutely GLORIOUS weather in September, and that was the week I chose to go to Slimmeria again.
I am GOOD at this choosing-the-best-week-to-go-to-the-Ilfracombe-retreat malarkey… it is ALWAYS amazing weather when I go.
Keith drove up and met me in Ilfracombe once the week at the retreat finished (I’ll discuss how I got on in ‘Health’, below), and we spent the weekend eating at all the places I usually had to avoid. As you can see in the pictures above we did have one naughty-but-nice cream tea(!), but I didn’t go crazy as I didn’t want to undo all the hard work I’d put in during the week before. We stayed in a beautiful Airbnb studio flat with a view of the sea, and the weather was a mixture of sunshine and showers.
I took Keith on all the walks we usually do while I’m at the retreat, and we treated ourselves to a meal at the Michelin-starred restaurant The Olive Room in the high street (which I can highly recommend).
As soon as we got back we went to the rescue centre the very next day and collected Suki… I can honestly say that September was one of the best months this year.
Weekend in the Cotswolds
I also spent a girls’ weekend in the Cotswolds with my fitness retreat girlfriends in November – the first time we’d spent time together without having to eat nothing but vegetables and be banned from consuming alcohol.
Through both blogging and the fitness retreat I’ve made some amazing (and, I’m sure, lifelong) friends. We watched movies, had a drink (or two…) and walked across the muddy fields to have a pub lunch; the weekend was so much fun and we laughed so much.
We also watched England lose the Rugby World Cup final to South Africa which was gutting… maybe the football will bring England more success in 2020?!
Watching – movies and TV
Something I’ve not thought to add before… what I’ve seen or been watching!
I saw Yesterday at the cinema with Keith (we both loved it, not just because we’re Beatles fans) and I took my mum to see Judy. We both really enjoyed it, and Renée Zellweger was SO much like Ms Garland it was unreal.
Of course, there’s the third season of The Crown. I’ve now watched it all and thought it was wonderful (unsurprisingly). The Aberfan episode was especially heartwrenching. Olivia Coleman is amazing.
I know it’s a year old and the next series will be out on Netflix on Boxing Day, but I’ve just discovered You. It seems it’s a bit of a Marmite show but I absolutely loved it (gotta admit I adore Penn Badgley) and can’t wait to see series two. Like Negan in The Walking Dead, you gotta love any baddie who’s just as charming and likeable as he is evil.
So yeah – unlike some, we’re still hardcore fans of The Walking Dead. It’s lost some of the sparkle of the early series, but there’s no way I can stop watching whatever happens. (Unless they kill off Daryl, in which case I might reconsider.)
Finally, the BBC: as a HUGE fan of the book I was really disappointed in =sigh= The War of the Worlds. Spielberg and Cruise did a MUCH better job in the 2005 movie IMO, and that was a modern reworking of the story. This was meant to be a faithful adaption but unfortunately it was slow and plodded and just… ughh. Disappointing.
And this may be an unpopular opinion(!), but I gave up on His Dark Materials after the third episode. I’ll admit I really only decided to watch it for the James McAvoy aspect, but as he was only in the first episode for about five minutes and then not again (in the episodes I saw), his absence and the whole confusing shebang meant I was done.
Result: Netflix 2, BBC 0. Though I have LOTS of David Attenborough in my planner to catch up on.
(Let me know if you’ve been watching any of these shows/movies and what you thought of them in the comments!)
My year in review so far: Career
Specsavers SWOTY Awards
I’ve been twice before, but it was fantastic to be invited to the Specsavers Spectacle Wearer of the Year (SWOTY) Awards again. A chance to get dressed up, do a lot of celebrity-spotting (the best I saw were Gary Barlow and JOAN COLLINS OMG) and promote a great charity fundraising event. Over £100,000 was raised on the night for anti-bullying charity Kidscape so I’m always super proud to work with this brand.
Last month I spent a day with lingerie brand Fantasie to shoot a new campaign that’ll be going out next month in magazines and online (and possibly at point-of-sale in some stores). I can’t share anything from the shoot apart the shot above, but when it’s live I’ll definitely report back and share the images/videos. The campaign and the message are pretty fantastic, that’s all I can say!
Cotton Traders styling event at The Ivy
Also last month I worked with clothing brand Cotton Traders and hosted a styling presentation for their new (and, shall we say, improved) SS20 collection. I featured the fabulous coral maxi dress that I wore on the day both in an outfit post and in a 3 ways to wear a boho maxi dress post. It was a breakfast held at The Ivy in Soho, which is a beautiful venue, and it was mostly attended by journalists. A really fun morning and a lovely company to work for.
For the second time this year I promoted the insanely comfy footwear of European brand Josef Seibel in this blog post. I like working with brands on a long term basis, which of course you can only do if you truly love the brand. I’ve worn my black boots to death since getting them; they’ve been a godsend in this depressing, wet autumn we’ve had.
I’m glad to say the work-life balance, like last time, is still good (I’d give it an 8 out of 10). I reckon I could up my workload a bit if I were to juggle a few things and get some systems in place, so that’s what I’m looking to do over the quiet Christmas period and New Year. It’s always important to keep on top of the industry you work in and any new developments within it – there are LOTS of things I need to get to grips with like more detailed SEO, promoting evergreen content and scheduled social media more (especially Instagram).
New year, new decade, new systems…!
My year in review so far: Health
Slimmeria detox retreat
As mentioned above, I did another trip to Slimmeria in September. It was only three months after the trip in the summer, and I think this was the perfect amount of time to leave in between in terms of getting results and forming good habits.
In June, I went from the heaviest weight I’d ever been in my life (by a long way) to 8lbs lighter after the retreat. Then over the course of the summer, while I do contribute some weight loss to grief over losing Riley, I continued to lose through continuing to exercise regularly and stay on the healthy eating plan. I still indulged in quite a few summer barbeques and G&Ts, but I maintained a steady, healthy weight loss for the three months until I went to Slimmeria again in September.
From before the retreat in June to after the retreat in September, I lost a total of 22lbs (10kg). The difference it made to my overall feeling of health and wellbeing – not just how my clothes fit me – was incomparable. Although I’ve gone off the rails a little bit the past few weeks with Christmassy stuff happening, I’ve still been walking like a crazy person due to Suki’s speedy speed sticks so (fingers crossed) the weight has stayed level. Come January I’ll not only get 100% back onto the healthy bandwagon but I’ll also write and publish the post about everything I did to lose the weight (as promised).
Meantime have a read of my prequel post 3 quick tips to kickstart weight loss: get them into action now (I promise they’re easy peasy, even before Christmas!) and we can do this together come January.
Not really a health thing per se but it’s sort of related: I gave blood this week (it’s a big thing for me as I avoided it for years due to my fear of needles and hatred of being touched in the crook of my elbow) and found out something REALLY lovely.
There was a code on my donation form that the nurse told me meant that my blood – for whatever reason – is singled out for being given exclusively to babies. By the time this post goes out I may have already saved a baby’s life with a blood transfusion… the whole process is THAT quick.
Now if that’s not the best reason EVER EVER to give blood, I don’t know what is. In the UK? Register to give blood now.
My year in review so far: Family
All’s quiet on the family front, and that’s good news. Those who were maybe doing not so good are now on the mend, and although my 85-year-old mum had a tumble on Polling Day (the General Election) and needed a trip to the hospital (parents, eh?!) she’s resting now and getting better, albeit with a black eye and a huge lump on her forehead.
I’m hoping for good health and happy times for everyone in 2020 and the Twenties generally.
Just one more post before Christmas (this Sunday) which will be just to say Happy Christmas and what to expect over the next week or so – and beyond.
What’s been the highlight of your last few months that you want to share? Tell me in the comments!