14 August 2017

Fun at the #edfringe

There's nothing I love more than being entertained. I absolutely love shows, performances, comedy, variety, stand-up, singing, dancing - the lot. This, combined with one of my favourite cities of all-time is an absolute winner for me. If you follow me on Instagram, then you'll have no doubt seen where I've been enjoying all of this entertainment for the last week - and if you do not yet follow me on Instagram (urm - why not? It's full of selfies and whatnot) then I'll just have to tell you instead.

I was lucky enough to spend all of last week in Scotland at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This is something I now feel like a seasoned veteran attending; this was the third time we've visited for a full week and now we really feel like we know the ropes. We had hotels booked, shows booked (and organised into a rather snazzy itinerary), and I feel like I truly know my way around the beautiful streets and alleyways that Edinburgh plays host to. And the ones I don't know? I know I'll find out over the course of the week, one way or another.

When we do the Fringe... We do the Fringe. Way back in June, I sat myself down with Mister E, and the Fringe website up on my laptop - and I trawled page after page, listing after listing, YouTube and Twitter pages, teaser trailers and snapshots, looking and searching for the right shows and performances that would tickle our festival-viewing pickles... I then cross-examined, checked for show-times, organised a legitimate timetable, checked that everything was do-able and in walking distance, booked, slotted in and arranged "The Spreadsheet".


I mean, there's nothing that screams "TEACHER" more than walking around a beautiful city whilst consulting an hourly, colour-coded and laminated itinerary, is there? I'm not even sorry. This thing, when viewed upon by Fringe-goers, is heralded as a thing of genius. It's ridiculous, and yet I bloody love it.

Next year we're even thinking about making a numbered map, also colour-coded, ALSO laminated. We take this entire thing very seriously indeed.

Anyway, once we knew where we needed to be and when, once we'd ensured that we'd factored in sufficient drinking and eating time, and once we'd packed our bags then we were ready. It's all very exciting this you know - Kirst and I were actually travelling to Edinburgh by plane having had a weekend in London celebrating my birthday (more on this later, I'm sure) - and we were meeting my parents and Mister E up there.

There's something about people coming from different areas and meeting in a central point that always sounds very romantic to me. There's something so exciting about knowing that someone will be somewhere at a certain time and making the effort to travel for them? Is that daft? Like I was sitting on that plane, knowing that my Mum, Dad and Mister E were somewhere below us on the M6 speeding along up the country and we'd be reunited in one of the most beautiful cities in the world within hours...

I'll shut up now.

Once landing in Edinburgh we caught the Airlink shuttle bus to Waverley Station and met the whole family for lunch (which obviously, included haggis). Before long, it was time for the first show - and as you can see from the itinerary above - it was over to the Pleasance Courtyard to see Lucy Porter.

I'm not going to go into a massive amount of detail on each and every show within this blog post - although I might do something along those lines in a future one - however, links to all the shows we saw are below with a quick one-liner which I'll leave open to your interpretation.

Humorous. Didn't make me belly laugh until she talked about what the French do in the shower.

Amazing. Must-see. Didn't know he was the voice of Love Island until two minutes before the show.

Drunk Dorothy. Hilarious. Made me realise I must be a pain in the arse on nights out. Laughed a LOT.

Unexpectedly good. Surprised me. Nice, personal, chatty show.

Watched this year as so good last year, was not disappointed. Will definitely see again.

A risk but one I'm glad we took. Was three million miles away from city centre.

What even was that? Very long, very dull. Wanted to leave.

Enjoyable. Very comfortable venue. 

The girls were a bit pants but the boys were amazing and well and truly made up for it.

Heart-warming and lovely, nearly made me cry. One of the best of the week.

Slow to start but worked out alright in the end.

Makes you think - and Mister E and I were members of a live jury!

Made me chuckle. Lots of talk about chips, cheese and curry sauce. Made me hungry.

Best acting of the entire week. Dark, gritty and kept me on the edge of my seat.

...the short-list of shows was waaay longer than this. I must've had about forty shows I wanted to see but unfortunately had to limit to these - trust me though, it was more than enough! If it weren't for all the haggis I've eaten this week I'd be as skinny as a rake - the amount of running and sweating we've done getting around Edinburgh this week!

I'm planning on giving you a little bit more of an insight into the wonderful world of the Edinburgh Fringe over the next week, and I'll let you peek a little bit more at the bits and bobs we get up to whilst staying in that glorious city in more detail. Not only do we try and visit as many shows as humanely possible, but we also eat as much food and drink as much alcohol as we can muster as well.

I've got quite a bit of blogging to catch up on this week before I'm jetting off to Zante next Monday - so keep your eyes peeled on Life by LDE over the next few days. 

3 August 2017

A Rainy Day Out

We're nearly at the end of the second week of our summer holidays now, which seems crazy - how has it only been a fortnight? This summer I appear to have made it my mission to load up my calendar with as many holidays, getaways and days out as I possibly can - and I'm bloody loving it. During the first weekend of the summer holidays, we had a weekend of camping (I'll tell you more about it later..) and now we're onto the second mini getaway - a few days away in the Lake District.

I'm insanely lucky in that my Mum and Dad have a yacht moored up on Lake Windermere, and over the course of my life my parents and I have always been darting up to the Lakes and back for holidays and days away. It means the Lakes feels like a second home to me, and I no longer feel like a tourist there - if anything, I'm totally a local! Having this special place and the facility to stay there has always been amazing, but now being able to share that with somebody is even more so - and I realise how lucky I am for this!

So over the last few months, it's been really lovely to be able to share in the experiences that the Lake District has to offer, not only with the wonderful Mister E but also with his three beautiful children. We've all been up a couple of times since the Easter holidays and have loved it - and this time was no different. 

Our first day and second days were full of sunshine and that British weather we seldom see - gorgeous blue skies, barely a cloud in the sky and plenty of opportunities to get our tans on (something we're both keen to do - I need to get my pasty self some colour!) ...then however, our luck ran out and we were left damp and miserable yesterday morning. With three kids to entertain however, and an inability for our spirits to be dampened like the weather - we opted for a trip to the Lakes Aquarium.

The Aquarium was quiet considering it was the summer holidays (and a rainy day!) so we had plenty of opportunity to walk around and take everything in. In fact, we even went around a couple of times to make sure the kids had taken everything in. With everything to see from tropical fish - including Dory and Nemo - to otter feedings, diving ducks, a huge carp tank and an underwater tunnel with amazing views of the fish from below - there was certainly loads for us to see and capture.

...Unfortunately, taking photos of fish and animals through tanks is pretty much impossible - so you'll have to cope with the few I do have... I promise it's worth seeing up close though!

There's loads of little opportunities for the kids to interact with the facts and statistics about the animals they're seeing. Lots of little information cards and a quiz for them to answer all the way around. I remember going when I was smaller, however, and having a chance to hold/touch some of the animals - this doesn't seem to be a thing any more unfortunately as I think the kids would've loved it!

For an online ticket price of £21.00 for 2x Adults and 3x Children, we figured it was a pretty good deal - check out their website for more details on admission prices and discounts etc. It didn't take us much longer than an hour to get around - so I wouldn't plan your entire day around just the aquarium but it's still worth seeing if you're that end of Lake Windermere.

When we were done at the aquarium we went for a little explore around the jetties at Lakeside and took a chance for a few snaps of us and the kids. This is where, when I was younger, my parents used to have a speedboat moored up - so it was a little trip down memory lane for me as well.

Getting back to the boat a little bit later on, after stopping for a proper pub tea and getting the kids a much deserved ice cream, it was time for these guys to write in their holiday diaries and for us to partake in a cheeky beer - or several... (we are on holiday, don't you know?)

Before we went away, I dug out three little matching notebooks I bought from Paperchase in a sale years and years ago - if you know me then you'll know my utter obsession with collecting notebooks and sketchbooks of any sort... Well, it's getting out of hand. Anyway, these ones have now been donated to the kids and we're hoping at the end of the summer holidays they will have a fab little diary to look back on and be able to remember what they've done for their six weeks off.

Totally a teacher thing to ask them to do, right? #sorrynotsorry

Once the kids had finished their holiday diaries and were tucked up in bed it was a chance for us to have a little sit up on the top deck of the boat in some much needed evening sunshine. After a pretty much insanely wet day, we felt we deserved the "chill time" in the fresh air...

Until it started raining again and we had to batten down the hatches for a night under the deck... Don't you just love the British summertime? Anyway, that's just one day of a whole summers' worth of plans from Mister E and I - next week we will be heading up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (third year running for me, taking his Fringe virginity though!) - then two weeks after that we will be heading off for a week in hopefully sunny, sunny Greece. Very much excited for the rest of the summer - what have you guys got planned?

30 July 2017

One Year On

A few days ago, I was having a bit of a chat with my Mum in the car and I came to the realisation that actually my life is pretty god damn awesome. Like, ridiculously so. I really love having those little moments of clarity - where you get an opportunity to reflect on what's been going on and how you've changed and how seemingly small life moments turn out to be huge pivotal turning points.

We then got to thinking about just how easily your life can and does change, and how quickly it does so. For me, it was the thought process of exactly what I'd been through over the last twelve months - and how far I've come in so many ways; work, relationship, home, attitude and just general passion and gumption for life. Little choices made a few months ago, have ultimately led to the most amazing pathways being opened, and I love how life has these treats in store for us sometimes.

So with this in mind, I've drawn up a bit of a list of the things that have changed for me and just to give you a bit of an inkling as to how things are going before I launch into the proper "blogging".

This time last year I'd just about finished up completing my teacher training. I completed my PGCE at the University of Huddersfield and was awaiting the all-important email to tell me I'd got my QTS status. I'd already got my teaching job lined up for September and I was as excited as excited could be to get stuck in and get cracking. I was also terrified, because I'd heard I was getting a load of Textiles lessons lumped onto my timetable, and I hadn't touched a sewing machine since I was in Y8 myself. I was the epitome of the phrase "keen bean" though, and I couldn't wait to get started.

Fast forward twelve months - I've now passed my NQT year, I received an Outstanding observation from one of the deputy headteachers during my final couple of months (I know right?!) and I still absolutely love my job - even if sometimes I wish the mornings weren't quite so early and the marking load not quite so manic... I've taught myself how to use a sewing machine, and I can make a ton of different samples showcasing my newfound skills. I've got a Y7 (soon to be Y8) form group who I absolutely adore and make me smile every single morning. Most importantly, I completely "get" the school I'm working in, and I'm happy to say they "get" me too. I've got the most supportive team around me I could ever wish for - and I feel like I'm absolutely going in the right direction.

Last year I was pretty much at my complete and utter wits end with relationships. I spent pretty much all of last summer scrolling aimlessly on Tinder and going on waste of time dates. There were a million and one horrendous first pick-up lines that were ruthlessly screenshotted and forwarded on social media and to friends, I'd been stood up by the same guy twice and yet still continued to give him chances. GET A GRIP EVANS?! So anyway, yeah - I was more than ready to get stuck into work in September and forget about men completely.

Give me another twelve months of life and I'm the happiest I have ever been. Not long after I'd given up hope on any chance of a love life and resigned myself to the fact I would soon be Bridget Jones II, The most wonderful man entered my life and changed it so much for the better. I've got quite a bit planned about telling you about this mystery man (let's just call him Mister E) in the coming weeks so I'll save it for then, but I can assure you I'm done with Tinder scrolling and that's a pretty awesome position to be in.

Twelve months ago I'd just celebrated my second year of home ownership with a cupcake and a glass (or five..) of Prosecco. Living alone was my jaaaam, I loved it, I loved being independent and dancing around the kitchen at stupid o'clock in the morning having helped myself to copious amounts of fizz because who was going to stop me?! I had my own freedom and my own space to chill out and unwind at the end of the day.

This year I can celebrate no longer living on my own - yep, Mister E moved in with me a couple of months ago and it's been a pretty steep learning curve if I'm honest. I'd gotten so used to my own independence and space that suddenly giving up some of that was pretty hard to get my head around. Anyway, a few months on and it's not too shabby - this whole co-habitation thing is amazing. Do I miss dancing around the kitchen whilst drunk? Nope. Do I miss having my own space to chill out and unwind? Not in the slightest. And d'ya know why..? It's because I've got someone I love to be able to do both of those things with, even if it is just an hour or two of getting lost down a YouTube hole - and he still doesn't stop me drinking copious amounts of fizz. WINNER!

Actually, I've just realised I put at the beginning of this blog post that my general attitude to life has changed - I'm not entirely sure it has. If you know me, then you'll know I pretty much have always had a positive mindset and outlook on life. I am not one of these people that finds problems instead of a solution, and I'm not one to dwell on the negatives. This still hasn't changed! Admittedly there have been some 'hairy' moments over the last few months of my NQT year (more on this in future posts) but I'm still the happy-go-lucky, laidback, positive person I always was. And I bloody love it.

So yeah, that's a few of my life changes over the course of the last twelve months. What about you guys? Looking back over the year, what has been the biggest change or improvement to your life?