2016: A Recap and Resolutions

Wow. It’s been a long, eventful, strange, great year – and I can’t believe it’s almost over. I hope you all had a really good Christmas – or if you don’t celebrate, I hope you had a good 25th December regardless! I’ll admit, world events haven’t been too great this year (understatement) but for me personally, it’s been a good one. I thought I’d make a little recap post – and a small announcement from me at the end…

Early this year seems almost too long ago to remember somehow, but looking back at my first post of 2016, my resolutions were basically to exercise more, cook more, and to work hard. Happily, I think I can say I achieved all three! I worked hard to get into uni, and I’ve been working hard since I got there – I’ve been really pleased to find out that nothing I’ve submitted so far has got below a 2:1, and I’ve had two Firsts already. Also since September, I’ve been trying (and mostly succeeding) to go to the gym three times a week. What a difference that’s made – my skin, my posture, my mood… I hadn’t realised how much my posture improved until my parents came up to visit after about a month and a half and suddenly I was taller than my mum, rather than the same height!

As far as cooking more goes? I think just the fact I’m in self-catered accommodation is all the answer to that anyone could need. And I’m proud to say that most evenings I do actually cook proper meals, and the amount of times I’ve had spaghetti on toast or pasta and cheese probably amounts to about six meals. I haven’t quite tried out that many new recipes, but I manage to change it up enough.

Moving onto travel, this year I’ve been to Cornwall with my parents, Swanage on a field tripColchester with some family, spent a day in the Peak District with a friend… I loved Lanzarote when I went for a week all the way back in June. As my goodbye to secondary school, my first parent/supervisor-free holiday, and a celebration of summer all in one, I had the best time. It was beautiful and so nice and warm, and to this day I still have no clue what the name of my hotel was. I didn’t even know it while I was there, to be perfectly honest. But the views were so worth it, even though I had to miss my first opportunity to vote at an actual ballot station (it was over Brexit so I did a postal vote). It’s definitely an experience I won’t forget in a hurry.

After that, there was Kew Gardens. Is there a place more beautiful? I’m sure there’s probably plenty of places that could compete, but this was such a great day back in September. I went with my mum for a mother-daughter day before university, and we took so many photos between us. My favourite part was probably the tree-top walk, or the greenhouse. Growing up where I have, it’s a very green, tree-filled place, which was one of the things I actually do like about it, and Kew Gardens was a great place to go if you’re a tree-hugger like me.

On a different and related note, I’ve said before that saying goodbye to secondary school was something that had been a long time coming and felt like one of the best things in the world when it finally happened. The better feeling was waking up on my first morning at university, realising that I’d finally made it. Buying posters and tacking them to my wall, checking my uni timetable, meeting dozens upon dozens of new people and exploring a new city… It felt amazing. I can’t believe how quick the first semester has gone.

In terms of this blog, I’ve kept up my two-blog-posts-per-week schedule for pretty much the whole year, having only missed a few uploads, which makes me pretty happy. I’ve not made as much progress on my book as I’d like, considering it’s now been two years since I got the idea, but I’m actually pretty close to the end of the first draft. It’s been intermittent, but I still feel like recently I’ve made good progress. The end is in sight!

Also in the artsy aspect of the year, I’ve seen two West End plays this year – Beautiful and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’ve seen Finding Dory and Fantastic Beasts at the cinema, which is impressive for me as I don’t often make it to a cinema more than once a year. I have absolutely no idea how many books I’ve read, but it’s definitely a fair amount more than the roughly eleven I’ve had to read for one of my English modules this first semester. I’ve written a couple of pieces for the university online newspaper, and been to a literary festival for the first time.

There have also been some other interesting experiences this year. I worked on a production line and on telephones (albeit very briefly) in summer, something I couldn’t have predicted. Safe to say neither of those will be my dream job, but everything’s a story, right? I’ve sat through a lecture from Mary Robinson, previous President of Ireland, on climate change. I’ve been to a ‘Get In with the BBC’ event back in October. Had my first experiences with nightclubs (also not my scene, it turns out). Pulled an all-nighter over the US election. Bought way too many hot chocolates from Starbucks. Got an infected elbow from two swollen bug bites. Made new friends.

It seems kind of insane how much has happened this year when I put it all down like that. But as we’re now at the end, I thought it would only be right to look to 2017. Although, I have to admit, it still doesn’t feel like 2017 is real yet.

Either way, with three days to go, my 2017 resolutions are these:

  • Get abs! …or something close. This is something I’ve wanted for a while, but I’m gonna be determined to tone up properly from now on.
  • Finish my book – first draft minimum.
  • See if I can post three times a week on my blog.
  • Be better at eyeshadow, and basically makeup in general.
  • Stay on top of my deadlines.
  • Take up all interesting opportunities that come my way (like normal).
  • Do something good over summer, whether it be an internship, work, travel, whatever – anything to keep me from staying at home.

And that’s about it. I don’t like setting too many resolutions, but I do like goals, and I feel like these are good ones.

In terms of trying to post three times a week on here, I think I’m going to take January away from blogging. That sounds like a contradiction, but this is in order to focus on not only the revision I have to do for my exams, but also to regroup and plan where I want to take my blog in 2017. It’ll give me some time to consider scheduling, ideas, possibly design… basically everything. Getting ideas has been a bit slow off the bat lately and I only want to post things I’m happy with, which I’m sure is understandable enough. If you feel like keeping up with me during January, I’d love it if you’d follow me on Twitter – my handle is @thekatybennett.

So with that, I think I’ll end this post – but please let me know what your resolutions are in the comments! Happy New Year to all, and I’ll be back by February!

Katy x

A BUSY WEEKEND

This post is slightly different, because it’s been written over three days – as those three days happened. I thought I’d take you on the journey with me. Enjoy!

Friday

12:04pm. Oh. My. Goodness. I’m starting this blog post sitting in Starbucks once again, much like on Wednesday, (still no food in the flat) except today is Friday. To be more specific, it’s Friday lunchtime and I’m eating a surprisingly delicious salmon bagel in here in somewhat of a hurry because IT IS SUCH A BUSY WEEKEND.

My lectures finished yesterday evening and I’ve got my train home tomorrow morning, so today is my day of getting absolutely everything done. I’m talking all the household chores, packing, returning books to the library, and – most importantly of all – renting a house! That part took up all of my morning, from walking to a second viewing to going all the way down by the city centre to the agency to book it (that was about a four mile round trip), but I now officially have a place to live come next September. What a relief.

So, now, I am currently waiting for one of the friends I’ll be living with to come meet me so I can pass on some sheets for signing to her before she goes home, then I’ve got to hoof it to the library (half way across campus from here) to give another friend the same sheets (and return the library books) before she goes home. Then I have the delightful task of figuring out how to pack enough clothes, shoes, various other sundry items and all my study things that I’ll need before I go home. And I need to be able to carry it all… I shall keep you updated.

Ooooooh, I’ve just remembered I need to file a maintenance request in my flat about the shower… damn it… I’ll do that later. To the library!

15:44pm. I’ve seen both the friends, returned the books, returned to the flat and have almost finished packing, and it’s about blooming time. My gym clothes are apparently determined to stay too damp to pack for a while yet though. Oh well. I can’t believe it’s getting dark already, there’s still so much to do! *yawns*

18:54pm. Dishes, hoovering, everything but the bathroom… finally done. And, much like lunch, I have nothing in for dinner either so I’m eating a cheap pizza from Lidl. The rest of my evening will consist of a) cleaning the bathroom, and b) writing my book! No rest for the wicked 😉

By the way, my gym clothes STILL AREN’T DRY. It’s been 24 hours since I washed them, come on already!

snapchat-405948990

Saturday

07:39am. I am currently standing outside reception waiting for a taxi! I had such a struggle getting everything into my suitcase (those pesky sports clothes just about dried) and getting it down the stairs.

08:35am. I have made it onto the train, at long last. It doesn’t leave for another ten-ish minutes, but can I just take this moment to say OH. MY. GOODNESS. (Once again). It’s so much like a flight but better, and I even managed to book a seat with a table and plug socket, and there’s onboard entertainment!

I’m typing this on my laptop, with full intentions of writing my book on the journey, and watching Beauty and the Beast on my phone. I can’t think of anything else to say but OH. MY. GOODNESS. Best journey ever.

09:18am. This is great. Every journey should be liked this. It’s extremely foggy outside. But now someone’s about to sit next to me… oh dear.

17:27pm. Good news is nobody ever came to sit next to me! My train arrived early, so I found my dad waiting for me in Euston and we sat in Starbucks for just long enough to let some of the crowds pass. Then it was the Underground to Barnet, then he drove us from Barnet back home. I actually arrived home around one, but I was literally only there long enough to distribute some belongings around the house (isn’t that what every student does when they arrive home?) and eat some bread for lunch before it was off out again!

This time it was to meet my two best friends in town, albeit quite briefly, as one of them was working in the café where we saw each other, the other was hungover, and I was kind of tired and in a hurry anyway. We had a short little reunion, then I had to go again, this time because I had absolutely no toiletries whatsoever at home and – also quite important – no pillows. I can now report I have both.

Sunday

15:58pm. Hello again! The rest of last night was me being home for all of about an hour, then me, my parents and brother went out to an Indian restaurant for dinner. I hadn’t had a curry in so many months, I specifically asked we go there – but by this point I have discovered that my brother has, between late last night and earlier today, eaten all of mine and my mum’s leftovers. Nice to know some things haven’t changed in three months… I was quite tired by the end of it so pretty much just collapsed into bed.

Now though, I have unpacked, caught up on some Big Bang Theory and am at a friend’s house. I felt a bit odd waking up in my room this morning, partly because it didn’t really feel like my room somehow. I mean, I hadn’t unpacked by that point and half my belongings are still in Liverpool, but it’s been a significant three months. For one thing, because I’ve been working out, I am now distinctly taller than my mother! (I’m quite smug about that.) But I feel like it is probably time to end this blog post. I hope it wasn’t too clunky or boring, it’s just been a really long couple of days talking to a lot of people, getting a lot of things done, and travelling home.

So, with a raised glass of the non-alcoholic mulled wine I have in my hand, I shall leave you!

Katy x

Why I Love Solo Café Trips

What’s up? How’s life? You good? I’m good. I’m sitting in a Starbucks right now, the remnants of a sandwich and hot chocolate in front of me, with the express aim of sitting here to write. So, of course, that means I am alone.

And it’s become one of my favourite things to do.

IMG_20161214_162843.jpg

The idea of sitting by oneself in any establishment where people eat or drink is usually seen as a daunting one, something a lot of people generally think isn’t a socially-acceptable thing to do. Mainly these people are those who’ve just never done it themselves. But this year it’s something I’ve done a fair bit, and you realise pretty quick that actually, nobody really cares if you’re sitting alone.

There’s something rather special about sitting alone in a café. Sat on a one-person table, you have the perfect opportunity for endless people-watching. Everyone else who’s there with friends or family or colleagues is too busy with their own conversations and occupations to notice you, and if they do happen to glance at the person sitting alone with a notebook or laptop, the likelihood is they’ll think absolutely nothing of it. Or if they do, it’s probably with some element of jealousy at the idea of sitting alone with a delicious drink and nobody to disturb you.

Sitting alone in a café, you’re free to think your thoughts. It’s one of my favourite environments to write in, for an abundance of reasons. Nobody’s there to disrupt your thoughts, for one. If I look around, there’s all sorts of people and conversations to inspire some element of creativity. Cafés with lots of windows, like the Costa back in my hometown or the Starbucks I’m writing in right now, are even better. Looking out and seeing people pass, talking on the phone, carrying guitars, having conversations with friends, laughing, listening to music… it’s inexplicably addictive. I like watching the cars pass and the light change.

It’s the perfect place to sit with a notebook and pen, or tap away at a laptop completely at my own leisure. The surroundings constantly change, busy to quiet, different people, different conversations. And if I’m lucky, someone near me gets a particularly delicious-smelling Americano. I may not be able to drink coffee, but boy do I like to smell it. Most cafés have comfortable chairs, and they want people to come and sit down. So, they’re usually an especially welcoming place. Nobody wants an empty café.

Cafés are also the perfect place to sit and read. I don’t know about you, but I find reading in complete silence is sometimes actually distracting. Reading while listening to music is often just a lost battle.Reading while in a café, however, with completely irrelevant background noise and easy access to cake and hot chocolate, is brilliant.

I’ll admit I usually don’t sit in a café alone with nothing to do. I don’t find the idea of having nothing to do particularly enthralling, much as other people pine for those times. Alone time in a café is the time to get things done that wouldn’t necessarily be prioritised elsewhere. At home, I’m plagued with distractions from parents. At my flat, I’m plagued with the idea of the dishes in the kitchen or the fact I ought to hoover my floor. In the library, everyone’s there studying and that pretty much translates in my brain as I should be studying too, even if I’m on top of my work.

Being alone in a café is a perfect compromise: I’m not the one doing the dishes, the people around me are doing all sorts of things, and nobody cares to bother me. And that’s why I love it. I’d recommend it to anyone.

Katy x