I’m Going on my Hollibobs!

You’ll all know by now, that in a week I fly off to my second home, Orlando!

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I’m crazy excited, and I’ll be posting a lot of stuff on my instagram, so make sure you’re following me over there.

I’ve scheduled a bunch of posts ahead of time, so keep checking back here for new articles. Halloween season hasn’t passed me by so there’s quite a bit of horror film chat about to occur (if you hadn’t already noticed on twitter!)

So whilst I’m away, please still comment on my blog posts and stuff and send me the love. I’ll reply to you when I can 🙂

Ahead of my flying off, I have a post coming up about what’s in my hand luggage, which was asked for by my followers on twitter, so keep an eye out for that.

See you on the other side!

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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I didn’t really want to follow my last post with another post about moving house, but let’s be real – when you move house it pretty much takes over your life. It IS your life.

We’re in, we’re feeling settled and we’re almost unpacked. Which is amazing, and more than I could have hoped.

The actual moving weekend was mega stressful and I’m not going to lie – I never want to move again. Which is what I said the last time, but something tells me this house is more of a keeper.

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Over on instagram I’ve been sharing elements of the house. Once it’s more finished I’ll share some more but until now, head over there to see tidbits going forward.

But the house is amazing, I’m very much revelling in the fact that I have a dishwasher once more. And even though by square foot this house is smaller than the last, it feels so much bigger. The space is useable and well-planned out. The kitchen is the star of the house and since it’s such a social space, I’m really looking forward to having people over once we’ve got our dining table in. I’m in love!

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Other than moving I’ve been doing a lot of catching up on tv I missed when we were packed up, which is great because I’m having to force myself to STOP UNPACKING every waking second. So we’ve watched all of Twin Peaks (omg) and have started re-watching The Wire again. I think I might dedicate a whole post to Twin Peaks – not that there’s really a huge amount of coherent writing to be had on that subject, but we’ll see. Great British Bake Off is back, as is Dr Foster and American Horror Story (though I’m not too keen on the first episode I saw of this…. I’m not a fan of clowns.)

So my posts will start to feel a little more normal going forward. I’ve got some exciting stuff coming up and some exciting projects I’m working on, so keep your eyes peeled for those. If you’re a fan of Halloween and scary movies I have some posts, I’m really looking forward to writing, in the pipeline and of course there’s my trip to Orlando to look forward to!

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If you don’t already follow me on other social platforms, you can find me on twitter as @Shutterbug_Blog on instagram as groggits and on YouTube at the Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug channel. So follow me over there too, for stuff as and when it happens!

Until next time 🙂

I’m Moving House!

At the time of writing this, I’m in a house surrounded by boxes. I have no idea where anything is. Half of my belongings are in storage, and I can only hope I have kept back enough underwear for the next few weeks. (Yes, I own a washing machine, so we should be cool)

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(I definitely won’t miss that avocado bathroom suite…..)

By the time you read this, with any luck we should be moved into our new home. And fingers crossed we’re mostly unpacked!

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This move has been a whole year in the making. From deciding to put the house on the market when we returned home from Orlando last year, to now being moved in. It’s been a hard 12 months with ups and downs, stresses and uncertainties. But now we’re here.

We did it!

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The last handful of posts you’ve read on Musings had been pre-written and scheduled so I didn’t need to worry about writing, or whether there’d be internet to post. But now we’re in I’m hoping that this new chapter in my home life will begin a new chapter for this blog and my social media channels.

I’m excited, and I hope you are too! Stay tuned!

 

The Kryptonite to Creative Evolution

Flicking through my Facebook feed recently a video came up. It was the commencement address made by the actress Octavia Spencer at Ohio’s Kent State University earlier this year, and whilst I’m not too familiar with her work, her words spoke to me.

One point she made, as a young female person of colour , was that if when she’d been an up and coming actress she’d taken notice of the ‘lists’ – you know 25 actresses who made it by 25, or 30 richest lists – she would have stayed in bed, and not become as successful as she is. She referred to the ‘trap of comparison’ and told the graduates not to get caught in it, because they would continue to evolve in ways people had never thought of yet.

And this is what really struck me: comparison is the Kryptonite to creative evolution. And I’m not just talking blogging because it hits home to me, or in this situation acting, I’m talking all creative walks of life.

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Imagine the world if we’d had no David Bowie, for example. He came from the same places we did, but the creativity he brought to his field were totally unique – if he’d compared himself to his peers, and allowed that to bog him down, we would have never ended up with the Bowie we loved.

Think of any outstanding creative in any creative field and you can say the same. The ones who are most revered are usually the most unique. And let’s talk diversity – you don’t have to think back that long ago, and in some cases it’s still the same today, where these lists I mentioned earlier wouldn’t mention a single person of colour, or certain race or even feature a woman.

And I’m not trying to make this about diversity – I’m trying to make this about you. Just you sitting there. We all sit and compare ourselves. We flick through social media, and read gossip magazines online. We look at the success of those around us in our field and think “Well, if they’ve been successful and I haven’t, I need to be more like them” But then we end up with a world of clones. How boring.

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It’s the harder route, to be yourself and graft until you’re successful. And not everyone will make it to the ‘big time’ in their field. But if you readjust what success means to you – it’s not all about being top of the pile, the most famous or having the most money – then you might just find, with that mindset, you might rise higher than you’d thought.

Towards the end of Octavia’s speech, the underlined message she conveyed was

“The journey you take now, will be lead by you alone.” 

It’s a scary and powerful concept, but it’s true. Only you can carve out your path for the future, and only you are going to take it. So why would you want to carve out a path someone else has taken or is meant for a different person. Your path will have failures and disappointments, but that’s all part of learning. Because of this, you don’t backtrack on this path, you simply learn and move on.

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Life isn’t simple or easy – it’s hard graft, but if you really do work hard at it, you can earn your best life possible.

Returning To Orlando!

Never in a million years did I think that I would be visiting Orlando twice in as many years.

Even whilst boarding the plane last October (in the midst of a hurricane, no less) did I suspect that in just over a year I’d be heading back.

Orlando is definitely my second home, forgetting all the parks (but why would you want to?) it’s got all the weather, the food, the beaches and the views. It’s an incredible place.

So, when friends offered to have G Man and I for a stay whilst they are there in October, we knew we had to try to make it work somehow.

I’ll no doubt keep mentioning this over the period of time we have left until we head out, but I thought I would share a little bit of the things we want to do whilst we’re there!

Disney!

We’re not going to be spending much time in the parks, in fact it’ll be just one evening – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! We’ll be able to spend from 4pm til Midnight in Magic Kingdom and intend on rinsing every single second! I’ve got my costume sorted and I can’t wait to walk down Main Street and see the castle again!

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Visit Downtown Orlando, Winter Park, and St Augustine

Since our visit last year was straight Disney and Universal Studios jam-packed, we didn’t really go out and about in Orlando or the surrounding areas (apart from the shopping malls of course!) so this time around we want to visit some of these areas. I’m especially looking forward to seeing St Augustine because from what I’ve seen in photos it looks beautiful.

 

Complete my Orlando ‘Your Are Here’ Mug Collection

About a week after we left Orlando last year, Universal Studios announced the release of their Starbucks ‘You Are Here’ mug…. I knew I had to go back and get one, so that’s what I intend to do. I can’t have an incomplete collection now, can I?

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Shopping!

Oh yes! I will be stocking up on Bath and Body Works, getting my money’s worth in Victoria’s Secret and Hollister (the prices are so much better there!) and visiting far too many Target, Ulta and Sephoras. Let’s just say I’m planning on packing light so I have room to bring things home….. eek!

The Food!!

I honestly can’t wait to get eating! Blaze Pizza, Publix Subrolls, Cracker Barrel for breakfast – and the one I’m most looking forward to… Homecomin’ I get to have that beautiful Moonshine Cake that I’ve been dreaming about all year, again! This isn’t even mentioning Dole Whips and all the other Disney treats you can get in Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs!

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Speaking of Disney Springs……

I’m looking forward to spending time in Disney Springs and City Walk, as well as visiting the Boardwalk area which we didn’t do last time.

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And last but not least, I’m really looking forward to hopefully visiting Clearwater beach. We didn’t have the chance last time, so I’m hoping we will this time around, because I can’t go to Florida twice and not see at least one of their beaches!

As well as all of this, we intend on relaxing, taking in the weather and spending time with our hosts. I really can’t wait!!

 

It’s Ma Birthday!

Today’s post is purely me bragging that it’s my birthday today!

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I had originally planned a 34 things I’ve learned by 34 post, but I found the subject too boring to even write, let alone expect you to read – 34 is a LOT of things.

I don’t have any issues with getting older. In fact I love it. So many more days of things I’ve experienced, learned and so many more to live.

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A lot of people I know had issues with turning 30 but I saw it as an exciting milestone. I strongly believe you’re only as old as you feel, and I think at the moment I feel like I’m in my early 20s, so in my opinion I’m winning!

I’ve achieved a lot of things so far in my life, and I feel like I’m continuously opening new chapters and closing old ones. You only have one life, so why fill it with regret or annoyance that you’re getting older – what a waste that would be?

So on this day, I turn 34 years old, and I intend on spending it excited that I’m another year older and with anticipation of what will happen in the next 12 months. So much can happen in a year, and so much has happened since I turned 33.

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Every day is an adventure and the fact that you can have 365 adventures in a year is something to be excited about, wouldn’t you agree?

Adulting & Growing Old: What Adults Never Told You When You Were Young

I’m coming up to 34 years old next month, and I have to be honest, I still feel 19 in my head. I think I always will.

I’ve been blessed with a young-looking face, and people always think I’m about 6 years younger than I actually am. I used to hate this but now I like it, and I hope it doesn’t change.

Me and my husband used to look at photos of when we had first met and compare them with current ones, then comment on how we hadn’t changed. But now we look at those same pictures and notice a massive difference. I’m getting old! Not really, but I’m definitely looking older.

Last week I found my first white hair – not grey, white – and I was so happy. I love the idea of getting older, and I feel like I’ve hit another milestone. I’ve been looking for greys for a while now, but since I dye my hair (and have done since I was 16) I rarely see my natural colour. For some reason this time around, my mousey-roots making an appearance hasn’t bothered me so I’m holding out dying my hair until I snap back into hating it again. My plan is that if my hair goes white I won’t have to dye or highlight it any more. I’m aware that won’t work, but let me dream for a while.

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When I was a kid, I knew that as soon as I hit 18 I’d be an adult and have it all sussed out. But along with no one telling you how much aftercare having a tattoo takes and what REALLY goes on when you give birth, it’s one of those things that people don’t tell you when you’re a kid and leave you to work out yourself;

You’ll never really feel like an adult. (Shh don’t tell the kids).

I often see a term banded around on twitter – ‘Adulting’, and I think it’s perfect. For example “I had pizza for breakfast #adulting” or “Spent the afternoon doing my accounts, and now I’m off to a wine bar #adulting” It’s used perfectly to illustrate the psyche of an ‘adult’ who has the brain of a teenager doing things they feel that can or should do but not quite feeling like an adult.

I’ve always said that I never want to feel like an adult. If I start feeling that way, things will be dull and boring and I will have lost the fun. I also say you’re never truly old until you hit about 80, so I’ve got some time to go.

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You spend your young life learning how to be when you’re thrust out into the big wild world, but you never really stop learning. You can continue to educate yourself both academically and by learning from experience and the experience of others. Everyone you meet teaches you something about people and about yourself. You never stop making mistakes, learning from them and choosing which path to take.

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I find growing older to be the biggest adventure. It’s exciting. I want to be a sponge taking it all in, adapting myself to it and moving on to the next thing. I know a lot of people who went through a funk when they hit 30, but I was the most excited. This year I turn 34 and whilst I’m not so keen with my skin changing, my ability to go out in the evening on a ‘school night’ diminishing and my life responsibilities going up, I still know there’s so much ahead of me. There’s time to learn, change, experience and move forward. There are people I haven’t met, places I haven’t seen and so many things I need to learn about myself.

Who wouldn’t want to move forward and experience all of that?

2016: My Year in Blogging

I think this year has to have been one of my most consistent blogging years, the last one being during my year of half marathon training.

And I know exactly what changed it; the blogging community on social media and actually being actively social.

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Blogging has changed a huge amount since I started. I’ve been writing a blog for around 15 years and this particular blog for 7 and a half now. I’m so proud that Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug is the way that it is and that people seem to like it!

I started the year with around 300 email subscribers and ended it with over 600. After having started dabbling with makeup I started to see my reader stats increasing and people seemed to be interested in that kind of content. I’m not going to lie, as much as my blog posts are written for me, no one will deny the draw to being popular. Especially in such a competitive environment. And it’s SO competitive.

When I started blogging it wasn’t popular. It was something emo kids and poets did. For the record, and though there’s nothing wrong with being either of those things, I’m neither. I was just putting thoughts to ‘paper’ and then releasing them into the great ocean of the internet. I think that’s why I get on with twitter so much. You have a thought, you release it, and then it’s gone (for the most part!).

When I began putting in that extra 10% effort this year, I could see it made all the difference. But I also saw that the world of blogging, this expansive Blogosphere, was totally different from how it was when I started. EVERYONE has a blog. The content is rarely original, but when it is, it’s so good. And people can really make money from blogging. People are jacking in their 9-5 jobs to work for themselves and become influencers full-time.

And not only that, the popularity contest is so fierce that people actually pay for followers. Things I didn’t know even existed were brought to the forefront – people spend hours scheduling tweets to go out on a weekly basis. They will plan posts months ahead, spending hours perfecting their Media Kit and profile pages to be PR friendly. I have, for the time being, decided that a media kit and PR related type stuff is not for me. The other day someone had to explain to me what an Insta Pod was – I’m still not 100% sure…

A few years ago I dabbled, and worked with companies reviewing their stuff. I worked with Vita Coco, Chobani and a few tea companies. I had chocolate and yogurt coming out of my ears and finding the time to review everything was hard. I found my content was becoming watered down this ad content and I decided to let it go.

I also found it’s so hard to get noticed in the seas of ‘young’ ‘hip’ bloggers who understand social media and branding way more than I can at my mid 30’s. It’s frustrating to think that the 40th review someone has read about the latest Zoella perfume can get so much more engagement than a post I write about travel or a favourite charity….. But still.

So since I considered myself pretty good at twitter I set up a second twitter account dedicated to Musings and let it loose on the world. I got a few followers but they were mainly people who I already knew. And nothing seemed to happen….. Then I realised that I was being totally dumb and in order for people to engage with me I needed to engage with them. It’s been to the detriment of my personal twitter account, I must admit, but even so, I have really enjoyed it.

Things really started to fly when I discovered The Bloggers Hub (or I think they might have found me!), a network of like-minded bloggers who chat, help each other and are really fun. The guys who run the network are great, welcoming, and really help to boost your exposure all at the same time. They seem like the kind of people I’d really get on with IRL and there’s zero bitchiness from anyone, which is the one thing that had put me off being involved in any other twitter blogger network. Their twitter chat was also the first one I ever participated in (and since I’ve never felt the urge to join in with any others, if I’m honest). Through them I’ve found some amazing, friendly and really down to earth bloggers. I’ve also had my eyes opened to some of the pitfalls of blogging, some of the drama and plenty of the scams.

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Through twitter I got the balls to start my YouTube channel too, which is still very much in its infant stage. But it’s great to know there’s an outlet I can push my videos through, when I really want people to know what I’ve been creating.

Something I’ve always had an issue getting over, so not just this year, is the fear of putting what I really think onto the screen. And by that I mean, I sometimes have the strong urge to write a response to something that might be going on in the press or something in my life, but I’m afraid of the responses I might get. Sometimes it’s a social or political issue that I don’t feel like I know everything about but I still have a strong opinion on. I might know enough to write a post about it, but someone who knows more about it than me might comment and I won’t be able to stand my ground. This is something I hope, in time, I’ll get over. But the more exposure my blog gets, the higher the chance that someone might respond negatively to what I’ve written. I mean let’s face it, beauty bloggers get flack for using too much product in their swatches so what hope do I have if I start to comment on politics?

I also had the chance, towards the end of the year, to attend a couple of Blogger events. One was too far from home, but one was right where I live, and I chickened out. Apart from it being too much money for what you got, I didn’t feel ready to take that scary leap and be social with people I’d never met. The fear was too great. But maybe this year I’ll take the leap. There’s one blogger I’ve been friendly with for the past year, who I would consider a friend even though we’ve never met. Maybe meeting her this year will be the first step to conquering this fear. I think I need my hand held!

So what does 2017 and blogging hold for me? This year I upgraded my Peanuts Moleskine notebook, where I usually write in long hand, a full blog, if I have the idea in my head and I need to get it out. I bought a Dot Creates Blogger Planner. Inside it’s got loads of space for planning upcoming blogs. Up until now I’d either use my Peanuts Moleskine or more often just open a new page on my iPhone Notes app. This can be a little clumsy and when it comes to things like this, I appreciate putting pencil to paper more. This blog planner will also be great for planning YouTube video ideas and it makes my brain feel a little more organised!

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So planning will be important in 2017, though I don’t feel like I’ll ever be the kind of person who can sit, plan and write out posts months in advance. I’m far too much of a spur of the moment, type out whatever’s in my brain right now, kind of blogger.

I know I’ll continue with twitter because it’s been so much fun, socialising with everyone and learning too. I considered dabbling with scheduling tweets, but I enjoy actually engaging in real-time too much. Even scheduling blog posts too far ahead of time makes me feel distant from my content, so for the time being I won’t be scheduling tweets.

I’m going to work on my brand, but I want to keep it real. I don’t want to find myself moving back to where I was when I was doing PR and collaborations. That’s not me – if I talk about a product it’s because I love it and I’m just doing the same as if I told my friends about something amazing that I’d tried. And I want my readers to know that too. If I’m telling you about it, it’s because it’s worth talking about!

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I can honestly say that 2016 was my most enjoyable year in blogging, and I hope 2017 follows suit. I now know that putting that little bit of extra effort in, finding your tribe and being social makes a whole heap of difference. There’s a reason it’s called social media but for someone who isn’t incredibly outgoing or social I was just a little slow on the uptake.

But it’s okay now, because I got there eventually. And I love it!

My Itchy Feet; A Blog About Possibility

This time of year, when we’ve all had some quality time off, we’ve woken up when we wanted, chosen what we were going to that day, been adequately lazy and then probably a little more lazy than that, and been completely our own bosses, it’s very hard to go back to work.

Yet, tomorrow we all get up at stupid o’clock and once again join the rat race.

This year seems a little harder for me since it’s the first year out of many that I haven’t had a holiday or big event to look forward to. And last year was a biggie as I had one of my best friend’s wedding and my 10 year anniversary to Disney World to look forward to.

Reading everyone’s 2017 blogs has got me yearning in the same way as I do most years.

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So this year I’m putting fingers to keys (because pen to paper seems so 2008) and I’m going to type out some things I really want, just so that I can be accountable for them. These aren’t necessarily things I want for next 12 months, but for years to come and who knows when I can start putting the wheels in motion. But here’s a start:

I want to properly learn a new language

Let’s face it, it’ll probably be French. I already have a basis in French and I find it the easiest to get to grips with. But I want to be able to confidently hold a conversation with someone in another language without getting flustered and confused.

I want to learn a new skill

For a while I thought maybe calligraphy, but I’m not artistic enough for that. Today I thought I might want to learn shorthand – so maybe I’ll look into that.

I want to get a degree

This is a big one. I’m aware of the work load – and that’s partly why I haven’t taken the leap yet. I really really want to learn Law. For years now I’ve loved the idea of going back to school and learning basic law and then doing a degree in criminal law. I know it’s a huge one, and I am aware it would be hard. Especially since there’s no way I can do without working full-time. Sometimes I feel like it might be too late, but then is it ever too late? I love the idea of using that part of my brain again and being good at something – at least I hope I’d be good at it. But it takes time, money and a LOT of energy so I know it’s not something I can just jump into.

I want to travel

For a long time Gary and I have wanted to take a month off, travel, even just go to New York, rent a place for a while and live there. I’d love to be creative in a place like that. One thing I mention a lot is travelling the UK and taking photos of the kind of places no one takes pictures of. Then making a living selling those photos. It’s a big dream, but again it means taking time off work or leaving work and then how do you fund it. I’m seeing a lottery win in my future…..

So there’s a little insight to my itchy feet. Who knows what the future holds – but for now all bets are off and nothing’s off the table. It’s frustrating but at least I’m happy in the knowledge that any or all of these thing are possible eventually. I just need to work hard to get there!

Awesome Things That Happened to Me in 2016!

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2016 has been an amazing year. It started out with a trip to New York, and deciding to complete another 365 challenge, this time on Instagram.

I’ve really enjoyed posting a photo a day, and only had to miss two days when I got sick in October, which I’ve made up for.

January kicked off with me getting into makeup and starting to blog more. My blog has been through many phases alongside the phases I go through in my life, and I must say that beauty blogging has opened many more doors than any other subject I’ve written about. I’ve met so many people and a fantastic community of like-minded individuals.

February continued in this fashion with the start of my beauty favourites blogs, and I also saw the amazing film It Follows for the first time.

March began with seeing my Book Club girls, well half of them, for the first time in ages, and discovering Pretty Little Liars. I took a trip to London for my niece’s birthday

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and I spent a week off work turning my spare bedroom into a wonderful walk in wardrobe!

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In April, my Mum wrote a guest blog which people really loved, and I started my dedicated blog twitter account. I also discovered some fabulous podcasts and House of Cards became my new favourite tv show.

May teased us with 18c weather followed by horrid winter again. I visited London a few times, went for my only run of the year

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and Ariana Grande released Dangerous Woman! I also became obsessed with all things coconut scented.

June was a big month – Sarah’s London Hen Party was amazing, followed by her wedding in Cornwall.

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We spent a whole week in Cornwall and had an amazing time.

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I saw some great films, 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Gallows and this blog turned 7!

In July we said goodbye to Tash the only way we knew – over food! We had fabulous brunch in Dalston followed by cocktails at the John Lewis rooftop bar.

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I went to EDC, which was wildly out of my comfort zone but really fun

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attended a family wedding, Secret Cinema Dirty Dancing

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and watched Stranger Things.

August was filled with movies, including Finding Dory and Suicide Squad for my birthday. I bought my new Sony a5000 and we went to see Romeo and Juliet at Waddesdon Manor as part of the Luna Cinema festival.

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We also saw the Hot 8 Brass Band at a local venue and danced the night away.

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In September, though I didn’t blog a huge amount, I announced my brand new YouTube Channel! I also got very excited for Florida, celebrated by 10 year wedding anniversary and spent the weekend at The Savoy in London!

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October was the month of Disney World. We took the trip of a lifetime and had a blast.

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On my return I got the sickest I’ve ever been, and thankfully recovered within a week. We went to see the Harry Potter play

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went to a Bad Company gig and celebrated my mum and dad’s ruby wedding anniversary.

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November was the return of the Gilmore Girls and I also attended Jurassic Park Live at the Royal Albert Hall.

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From the end of November to present it’s been all about Christmas and New Year. I visited the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, and vlogged.

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It’s been an amazing year and I can’t wait to see what 2017 holds. There’s a lot of change in the air, and I’m really excited about it all. Who knows what I’ll be writing in a year’s time? Here’s to another great one 😀