Tag Archives: couple

Loving life in London town and celebrating in the sunshine

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The view across the London Eye and Houses of Parliament in the sunshine

I still haven’t quite managed to get back to reality after last week’s mid-week break to London – I just keep wishing I was back strolling along the South Bank drinking wine in the sunshine! Me and the boyfriend had the trip planned after he bought me tickets to see Ella Eyre at XOYO for Christmas – both very excited after seeing her perform the other year on tour with Rudimental. Unfortunately a change in the date of the gig meant the tickets had the wrong date on and we ended up missing the gig – so no Christmas present but we more than made up for it with an epic couple of days.

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Sunshine and smiles on the bridge

When we arrived in London we decided to ignore our previous plans to head to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaur exhibit and to the British Museum for the exhibitions on Egyptians and Vikings – it was just far too sunny to be inside looking at history. Instead we headed straight to Embankment with plans of grabbing some lunch and sitting out in the sunshine. As we walked out of the station and towards the bridge, we came across a food festival.

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Mark with his lucky heather

 

We could resist heading into the gardens were there were various stalls selling jerk chicken, pasta dishes, African cuisine and even fish dogs (fish finger hot dogs!). We plumped for a lobster bite, which was absolutely delicious, followed by black truffle mushroom risotto balls stuffed with Italian cheese and with a tasty ragu – incredible! We were glad for these later on when we ended up not getting the chance to eat again until late! While we ate, we sat in these beautiful gardens with a great view of the London Eye.

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Afterwards we walked across the bridge to South Bank and strolled along in the sunshine watching the street theatre and listening to live music. I loved the steel drums, while Mark was the perfect target for anyone selling anything from ‘lucky’ heather to bibles!

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The bendiest rasta men I have ever seen!

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Mark with his lucky heather

We must have walked miles, stopping now and then to sit in bars drinking wine in the sunshine and trying to remember where we were going. As we were walking, we found some leaflets for a gig that night in Camden Market where a ska orchestra would be playing at Dingwalls. We figured this was a perfect replacement for Ella Eyre and decided to head there instead of to Soho to watch a jazz band. After a quick stop at the Restup Hostel (genuinely nicer than hotels we have stayed in previously in London, perfect position for going out all over and my first choice more often than not).

10003439_10151937972882617_1889696327_nWe grabbed a quick bite to eat and a few drinks then headed to Camden where The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra and another ska act would be playing later on. It was a great little venue – slap bang in the middle of Camden, dark and full of interesting characters – just my kind of place. The bands were great, really lively and energetic – they had everyone up and dancing from the beginning. I’ve never seen any other music have such a awesome effect on a group of people with such different backgrounds, ages and jobs – it really has such a good atmosphere and has got me all excited for the summer at BoomTown fair. The band played such a range of instruments and were really talented – I was very impressed.

1622840_10151937973082617_110445465_n 1012138_10151937973202617_1120837800_nWe danced long and hard and my legs were killing me by the end after a day spent walking all over London. The next day we spent eating our way round the food stalls at Camden Market nursing our hangovers before heading home. A great few days in London where we achieved nothing we planned to do but had loads of random fun. It was great to get away and really hard to come back to work after this followed by the weekend. It was also our eight year anniversary over the weekend – quite an achievement in itself! Can’t quite believe we’ve been together for more than a quarter of my life now – we must be doing something right!

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Do you love spontaneous trips like this or do you prefer to plan every second? What’s the most random thing you’ve come across in London?

 

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Relationships: What’s it really like to have a boyfriend at university?

Photo by Francisco Osorio

Photo by Francisco Osorio

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d avoid the cheesy posts and instead offer some advice for young couples who are facing decisions over continuing a relationship at university. When I first received my acceptance letters, took those dreaded exams and realised I had got the results I wanted and needed to move on to the university life I had been dreaming about for the past two years of hard slog throughout A-levels. Everyone had been worried – my parents thought I wasn’t spending enough time on my work and revision because of my boyfriend and my friends were worried he would lead me astray. But I sure showed them when I got that A and three B’s – more than I needed to go to the University of Hertfordshire.

Again, my parents were worried about UoH being my first choice because it asked for a lot less UCAS points than I was predicted, even less than I received. I had chosen it based on the course content, the number of live researchers who would be my lecturers, the beautiful campus and accommodation, and of course the great feeling I had when looking around. I’ve always been one for going with my gut when decision-making, and from the second I walked on to the campus and looked around, I just knew this was the university for me. I refused to compromise this for courses that didn’t cover what I wanted to study and for accommodation that looked like a prison, and it worked well because I left with a 2.1 BA Hons in English Literature and Language and Communication.

Photo by Oleh Slobodeniuk

Photo by Oleh Slobodeniuk

But enough about all of that – this post is focusing on the fact that throughout all of my time at university, I stayed with my boyfriend while he lived and worked back at home. I have spoken to several girls since who were just heading off to university and just didn’t know how they would cope with having a boyfriend back at home while they studied – they didn’t know what it would be like. Just as I was asked for advice back then, I will give it again now.

University will test your relationship, probably beyond anything before this time. You will be madly in love with your boyfriend before you go and often can’t bear the thought of breaking up, but at the same time are ready for a whole new adventure – it’s a confusing time for many. For me, it was simple. I loved my boyfriend and wanted to stay with him regardless – I didn’t see why university would get in the way of that. Of course, distance plays a big part in this and I had chosen a university that was just two hours drive from my home town (not chosen because of boyfriend, just coincidence). But if you really want to make it work, it won’t matter the distance.

Becoming an independent woman:

You need to remember that you will be experiencing a whole new world of living away, new-found independence and freedom, making new friends, discovering new passions, keeping up with your course and lots and lots of partying. Your new schedule may not have space for boyfriend time at first with all of the nights out and busy days associated with Fresher’s Week (ours turned into a month). So you have to remember that your other half might find it a bit difficult at first – not only are you off having a new adventure without him, but you suddenly might not have much time for them. It is important to make the effort to keep them updated and make them feel a part of it as well, you wouldn’t like it if they disappeared off to get drunk with strangers for two weeks without speaking to you.

Photo by Elizabeth K

Photo by Elizabeth K

Time-management is the key

A lot of this first month of university (and the rest) is spent getting pretty drunk and the lectures often take up a lot less of your time with more work expected in your own time – often this time is spent in bed, hungover and watching rubbish TV. I know there is a lot of other work thrown in, otherwise how did I get that 2.1? But my point is that your schedules could end up the opposite of each other – I got to a point where I was up all night, either partying or in the library and would sleep most of the day when I wasn’t in lectures – I just seemed to work better at night. This was difficult when my boyfriend was at home working shifts at an engineering company because often I would want to drunk call him after a night out or text him all night but couldn’t because that would wake him up, likewise, he would text in the day but I would be asleep or in lectures. You need to find your own balance that will work for you as a couple.

Don’t forget the importance of alone time

One huge benefit of going to university is having your own space, perhaps you were both living with parents at home and struggled to get time to yourselves. Suddenly, you have your own room in a block of people that won’t disturb you – you can go off for dinner, or cook your own, lay in bed all day and watch movies or do whatever you want. This freedom is great after being interrupted every five minutes at home. Make the most of this time. We had it easier because my university was quite quiet at weekends with many people going home to work in London, so my boyfriend could come up and visit and often we would have the whole flat to ourselves. Likewise, I made sure to come home and visit both him and my family – in my third year I had a car at university so I could nip home at a moments notice, or likewise he could come to visit me without relying on the trains.

Photo by LetMeBeYourSwearWord

Photo by LetMeBeYourSwearWord

Temptation

This is the main one I get asked about. Yes, there is a lot of temptation at university, especially if you like sweaty blokes who are wearing too much aftershave and have been daring their mates to down dirty pints without being sick on themselves. Not really my type thanks. For some girls, they might feel they are being left out of all the drunken snogging and sleeping around that comes with Freshers but what are you really missing out on other than the Walk of Shame while dressed as Superwoman (as one of my friends had to do) and a bout of chlamydia? It is possible to go to university and not sleep with everyone, it is possible to go on a night out and go home with your girls and a greasy burger, it is possible to spend a night in your own bed. There are a lot of girls out there who get drunk and just need some affection – this was the tough bit, being drunk and wanting to call your boyfriend because you miss him, but not being able to because he’s got work in two hours. But you deal with it and move on. There’s a hell of a lot of other stuff going on that you don’t need to concern yourself with all of this – but if you are tempted, them be sure to end the relationship before making a big mistake and hurting your partner.

Put simply – it is possible to have a happy, loving, long-distance relationship while at university. It isn’t always easy, but in the end it is more valuable than any one night stand. You will have wobbles and strops over seeing each other and missing each other, but you will also have amazing times that you will never forget and you will end up a lot stronger for it. My main advice is to be sure of what you want before you go but don’t be afraid to change your mind when you actually experience university life – choose what is best for you. If you think it is worth it, it probably is. I was two years into my relationship when I went to university and now we are coming up to our eighth anniversary.

Have you been faced with a big decision over whether to break off a relationship or stay together at university? What did you choose?

It’ll be lonely this Christmas, without you to hold..

It’s that time of year again when everyone is planning what they’ll be doing Christmas Day – what time is the roast, when are you opening presents and whether you’ll be heading out to see the Royals, if, like me, you are lucky enough to live near Sandringham.

The age-old argument over whether it is better to be single or in a couple at Christmastime will surface again as singles prepare themselves for what might be their first solo Christmas after a break-up, they prepare to sit around with the family watching their siblings fawn over their other halves. And what about those work Christmas parties or those annoying uncles? Having to answer the same old questions about when you’re going to find a nice boyfriend and settle down… Bleurgh.

It can be depressing to be single at Christmas if you think about matching Christmas jumpers, finding the perfect present for the one you love and snuggling up in front of the fire. But what about the flip side – you also end up spending a fortune on Christmas presents and face that huge battle of where to spend Christmas!

As someone who has been in a relationship for nearly seven years, but who doesn’t yet live with said boyfriend – this time of year can be just plain annoying. Much as I love my boyfriend, we haven’t moved in together yet – a combination of reasons – mainly money. But the fact that we don’t means that we don’t have any real choice in how we spend Christmas. We are still stuck in that in-between phase where I have to spend much of it at home with my parents, sister and grandfather, which I love, but it is a struggle to even go out with friend to the pub on these days because they have so much planned! I hate to hurt their feelings, and I love every one of our Christmas traditions, from the party on Christmas Eve through to the Christmas Day walk and visit to the seaside and watching the Royals.

Meanwhile, my boyfriend, who now lives with a friend, has spent his last few Christmases visiting his mum’s house for dinner and presents, spending most of the day there, trying to fit a visit to his father’s house, an hour away, to see his grandparents and  spending the rest of the time tucking into cheese boards and getting drunk at his new house. We both love Christmas and spending it at our different homes, but I can’t help but long for just one Christmas where we could spend it just by ourselves. We could eat ridiculous amounts, stay in our pants all day and although I would force him to watch the EastEnders Christmas Special, we could watch whatever we liked after!

It is difficult when you are in an adult relationship, but are unable to live together because there are so many demands put on you by other people and it is so hard to refuse because you don’t want anyone to feel left out. Also, you yourself do not want to miss out on doing anything or seeing anyone. But it is so hard when everyone wants a piece of you – it is just impossible to fit in Christmas dinner with every branch of your own family, and everyone in your boyfriend’s family as well! I don’t think there is really any remedy for the situation other than to run away, shut up and get on with it, or complain and hurt people’s feelings. Not my style, so I’ll pipe down and get on with it! At least I can escape to his house when things get a bit much with all of my family packed into my house!

How are you spending Christmas this year? Do you face the same couple/family struggles each Christmas? How do you cope?

 

Don’t tell me it’s over!

I absolutely love this programme – Him & Her. It is a fantastic comedy based around a couple and the flat they live in, their lives, relationship and friends. It is absolutely hilarious and really helps to show what real couple are like, or at least a lot of what my relationship is like.

It was so refreshing when I came across this series, after the finish of Gavin and Stacey I was looking for something that would fill the gap left in my life. It is rare that I get attached to a TV series because I am so often missing episodes and forced to catch up because of working late or other commitments. But this one instantly sucked me in, the simplicity of the comedy, the peering into real life and fly-on-the-wall type of comedy is brilliant and the characters are so realistic and endearing – they really are someone that you know in real life. This is something that I think if so important for me to really find comedy actually funny – if I can’t imagine bumping into these people on the street or link them with someone I already know, it is too far away from reality to find funny – that is where I fell out with the Mighty Boosh.

I absolutely adore Sarah Solemani and Russell Tovey in everything they do, but I also love the character of Dan in the programme. He is brilliant to watch, especially when he thinks no-one is watching him. I particularly love the moments when he is alone in the room and starts picking things up or trying to eat things. One of my favourite episodes has to be the one where Shelley finally stood up to Laura – just to see the look on Laura’s face was priceless!

I’m so looking forward to the final series – but so upset that it has to end. Now I guess I better start looking out for a replacement series! Any suggestions? Which TV series’ have had you hooked from the beginning, and why?

‘Him & Her’ final series: The stars talk weddings, sex and being cool

Him & Her: ‘It’s rare to find a sitcom where the couple get on’ – video interview

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Don’t worry ’cause the night is young

I absolutely love this music video. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about relationships, how they are perceived by those within the couple and those outside. It astonishes me how many people out there think they have any right to comment on other couples when they know nothing about their personal circumstances or why they do the things they do. Luckily I myself have not really experienced this, but others I know have been subjected to it and I think that is very sad.

I loved this song before I even saw the video because it has that perfect combination of amazing vocals and powerful bass, but when I saw the video I realised that it is so well thought out. I love the video because it is such an accurate short film about what it is like to be in a relationship for the long-term. It is packed full of highs and lows, with lovely stuff in-between, but it is a damn struggle sometimes and it is refreshing to see someone depict both sides to a relationship in proportion and realistically for my age group. Too many views of couples my age is about them settling down, buying a house and getting married or having children – this is ridiculous! People need to live a little, realise there is time for all that later and to go out and be 23.

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Childhood sweethearts: Me and my beau

I don’t often write about my relationship – perhaps this is why it has survived so well through our teenage years and until now despite the demons that are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogging… But now I just feel it is time to introduce one of the most important people in my life to my readers.

I met Mark when I was just 16, we met through our sixth form where we both ended up in the same groups for our Gold Duke of Edinburgh and CSLA Leadership courses. At first, we didn’t really get on, in fact he really bloody annoyed me! But after a lot of winding each other up and flirting, we finally went on a date and as they say the rest is history! The funny thing is that at the time I had just been on a date with one of his pals – I think that was what sparked him into making a move to be honest, but I’m glad he did because by that point he was all I could think about.

We were together all through sixth form and despite several people warning me about Mark, I had never met a funnier, sweeter, more romantic guy. We were crazy about each other, still are, and spent all of our time together. Despite skipping a few lessons to spend with him instead, I still made it out with an A and 3 B’s! But then came the real test – it was always on the cards. I had been dead set on my own plan of going to university as soon as I finished school and I couldn’t wait. I chose the University of Hertfordshire, and unlike many I refused to make this decision based on my relationship – I simply loved the university and the course.

I’ve been asked by many people in the last few years about how we coped, and I’ve since bumped into old school friends who were amazed we had survived university – but I never saw it as much of an obstacle. I don’t know if perhaps it was just because we were so crazy about each other, but still more mature, that we realised we had the rest of our lives to be together and that being apart for a short time didn’t matter! He came to visit nearly every other weekend, sometimes we had a longer break, but we spoke every day while he worked at home as an engineer.

In my second year I lived at home (mainly because I was only in university twice a week and I wanted to work as well) so we were back in each other’s lives full time. Finally last year was amazing – I was so busy with work and revision, but still had time to party. He was driving and training to see me, and I had my car at university so I could easily hop in and be home two hours later. It was a great set-up and we never gave each other any reason to be jealous because there was no need!

Coming home was a struggle because we were used to living without each other, but we soon fell back into a routine and the last two summers we spent touring round festivals and travelling to Malta and Croatia. We always have the best time with each other and have never let a relationship stop us from living life to the absolute full like some couples do – we still want to go raving and dancing all night long. Sure we have our nights snuggled up in bed watching a good DVD, but neither of us can stand doing that all the time! And why go raving with others when only we can keep up with each other?

I hope there are some other couples out there like us – all the ones we know seem to be quite tame in comparison. But I’m grateful just to have my best friend and to still feel like this six-and-a-half years later! And looking forward to raving together again this weekend at Sub Focus.

A day of vintage shopping and exploring off the beaten track in my favourite city

After a week of stressing about lots of little things, it was time to unwind over the weekend by spending a little time with my loved ones and trying something different. Saturday was spent in Norwich with my boyfriend, after waking up first thing, we decided to head to the city for a day of browsing the lanes – neither of us needing to buy anything just fancying a look around the city in the sunshine.

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First of all we went to the Patisserie for a drink and some gateaux – I indulged in the double chocolate, while Mark went for the chocolate mousse combined with fruit smoothies and chocolate milkshakes. Absolutely delicious – I can never resist this place because all of the cakes look so gorgeous.

After, we headed into the lanes where we wandered among the cobbled streets for hours, popping into little boutique and vintage shops, found adorable cafes and delis that we had never seen before, including one that was selling a type of venison salami. The sun came out in force and it was a beautiful day, which only added to the feeling of being on holiday – I love when you rediscovered a place so familiar to yourself just by wandering off the beaten track.

After a few hours, we suddenly came across this huge vintage and antiques shop, Looses Emporium, which looked incredible. We were instantly sucked in and began to explore the enormous warehouse and its contents. We found some amazing items – mainly furniture that made me wish I were moving out so I could fill my home with these unique pieces – but also books, clothes, ornaments and much, much more. Here are some of my favourites:

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A vintage Lotto machine..

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A throne!

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Obviously need one of these for above the mantlepiece!

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Still in perfect working condition – such a beautiful tone to the music that you just don’t get from iPods etc…Image

As suggested by my friend – a sex gong! Haha

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And my favourite item of the day – a classic novel..

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Then, after two and a half hours of exploring (which included a flea market we found upstairs where Mark bought the purple 50’s bowling bomber as pictured above and an original 1960’s kimono), we moved on to Aladdin’s Cave, which was just down the street where I had to persuade Mark not to buy a life-size statue of Jesus for his new living room.

Both stored were amazing for one-off pieces and for finding something a little different, something we both love to do. Mark is moving into a new house, that his mum and step-dad are renovating in order to rent out, with one of his mates at the start of November and he is really excited to furniture shop for his own home. The place he shares now with two friends is filled with furniture and items that don’t belong to Mark, either to the others or they were given to the boys. He is definitely getting to that point where he wan’t to have a home to call his own and to have all his own things, rather than just a room in a house.

It was an amazing day and nicely rounded off with a meal in a Tapas restaurant we discovered which had the most amazing food. We shared a selection of dishes including Patatas Bravas, prawns in garlic and oil, mozzarella sticks in breadcrumbs with garlic mayonnaise, meatballs in a tomato sauce with peas, and a phenomenally tasty chorizo, bacon, and pea stew in a smoky tomato sauce that fired up my taste buds.

It was so nice to spend a day with Mark, just the two of us, exploring somewhere we both love. We haven’t had enough couple time lately and haven’t appreciated each other as much as we should so it was nice to be together away from everything and everyone at home.