Guess who's birthday it is! Ya girl turns 25 as of about 1.15am today.
Twenty five years old. I have officially left the young voters age bracket if we have another general election and if I made my X Factor debut now I'd be in the Overs category. Twenty four felt like a very 'non' age to me, like a bit made up? Twenty five sounds like a nice solid round number so I'm hoping it'll be a happy, successful year full of adventure (and maybe some holidays or clothes or summin fun).
In the traditional blogger spirit of birthdays I thought instead of doing a 'twenty something things I learnt in my twenty something year' which I've done before, or talk about past birthdays which I did last year - this year I thought I'd share twenty four things I did in my twenty fourth year on this planet. A year in which Trump became president, the UK triggered article 50 and Wales lost to England in the 6 nations again. What a year it's been........
1. Went for my first Christmas markets trip away.
I've visited Christmas markets before but last November me and my Mum, her bestie and her daughter (who just so happens to be one of my oldest dearest pals) booked a gals weekend away in Bath to go to the markets and Lacock Abbey. It was hideously busy, it was cold but lord we had the best time. It's the first time I've been away for Christmas markets and I wish I could do it every year. It was so chilled out, so good to be away from home and so bloody festive. It really kicked off Christmas for us and also made my Instagram feed v fancy for weeks afterward.
2. Road tripped to Birmingham.
You know when you just do something on impulse? Something with little planning, little sense to it but you just do it and it's wonderful? That's how I feel when I think about driving to Birmingham last Christmas. Joss' grandmother, cousins, uncles, aunties and friends are all on the outskirts of Birmingham and it's tradition to visit eachother before the big day for a big family meal and last year was our turn to go to them. Traffic was horrible, conditions weren't great, Joss drove my car and I sat in the back (something I've never done before or since and was really weird when it's your own car) and his poor car sick sister sat in the back. We met his parents and his brother there who'd just flown into London from the States and we were late, got lost and did a round trip of 6 hours for a mere 3 hours with the family. I drove home with Joss' jet lagged sleeping brother in the back and sleeping Joss in the front, I followed his parents partway home until they made a quick exit off a road and lost me and I navigated the way back from memory in the dark late late at night on my own. And ya know what? It was perfect. I met babies I hadn't had the chance to see yet, I played Frozen snap with Joss' cousin's little girl, we had jacket potatoes and cheese and salad, we had a million candles burning and it was just the dream.
3. Moved out.
Pretty big one ain't it? After living with Joss' parents for a year we moved out this year, no official date, can't even remember when it was but sometime after Christmas we had the kitchen renovations done and I distinctly remember the painting being finished on April Fool's day. We worked damn hard on the house, we spent as little as we could on as much as we could and I love it. I officially changed my address, my car insurance, my bank statements and now I live out of my parents home where I've spent 24 years and on Joss' parents farm and orchards. I have 2 spare bedrooms, I have a dishwasher, I have my own spot on the couch and space at the table. I have somewhere that is mine and his and I feel more at home here now than I do in my childhood home.
4. Visited Manchester.
Back in January I made the 3 hour vomit inducing train journey to central Manchester to see one of my uni besties who lives there (and all too far away from me) - a journey I'm making again at the end of November. I finally saw her house, I finally went to the cat cafe, I spent time in a city I haven't spent time in for years and I caught up with someone I used to see several days a week and now see maybe three times a year. We had such a good time and now we look back fondly when we were standing in her bathroom debating on it's new design and I said "tbh though you only need a bath if you have a baby" and she promptly ripped out her bath. Only to find out she was pregnant - unbeknown to us at the time.
5. Went on an Insta walk.
Bloody hell this feels like years ago. Back in April Sarirah suggested a dreamy Instagram walk in London, a date the following week was picked and we just kinda showed up. I went on the longest road trip ever driving myself first to Sarah's house (let's remember I met the girl once before this) and then she drove us to Richmond and back to see Sarirah and Mel and it was BOILING and I was massively overdressed. It was such a motivating day blog wise, it was such a motivating day friend wise and me and Sarah got stuck in a traffic jam on the M25 and lost our shit with hunger and laughed so hard she couldn't park the car when we finally made it to Burger King. I then drove myself home from hers at 10pm and got diverted off the motorway and had to go all through Newport and the back of Cardiff and was pretty delirious by the time I got home.
6. Broke down on the motorway.
Back in May I made my annual pilgrimage to Wrexham in North Wales where I went to university. We go back every year to meet up with all our friends who still live there, visit the zoo, have a Frankie and Bennys, go to my friends Mum's house and do a big haul in Primark. And whilst this visit was no exception to that tradition, the 8 hour round trip started off really swell with a big old storm on the motorway, a broken windscreen wiper, a breakdown on the M4 and a rescue from the AA and highway patrol.
7. Made the most of time.
Looking back at my bullet journal (the source of all knowledge and memory for me) I feel like I really made the most of my time this year. I've been to my local National Trust property about 6 times, we took my niece to Dan Yr Ogof caves, we've been to St Fagans twice, we've been to Margam Park, Cardiff museum, the park more times than I can count. We've been to the beach, I've taken road trips, I've been to see the rugby live in Cardiff more than once. I've seen all of Joss' family, I've had countless lunch dates and coffee dates and Ikea trips with my newest and oldest friends. I've been out with my brother and his fiancée, I've been out with Joss, I've been on 5 weekends away with another 2 booked before 2017 is out. I really feel like I've made the most of my time with the people who I hold closest.
8. Escaped an escape room.
Ok so fine the first escape rooms we did an escape rooms just before my birthday was a bit of a wash out and we got given an extra hour to get out but the second one was much more successful. We escaped the Fibonnacci escape rooms with time to spare and after screaming until we were hoarse because I accidentally touched a button that dropped a bunch of fluffy monkeys onto my brother's fiancée's head, we had such a bloody laugh and it's one of our fav things to do.
9. Celebrated our anniversary.
This May Joss and I celebrated 7 long years together with a mini break to North Devon and the nicest weather ever and the most Instagrammable village ever. It was super chilled, it was super hot, we saw a seal off the coast and went on a walk that felt like it was the end of the world. We ate icecream, we ate pasties, we spent two nights in a hotel, we shared the driving, we sang along to new songs on my iPod and we just generally had such a nice weekend. And it was all topped off with............
10. Got shortlisted for a blog award.
........getting shortlisted for the Blogosphere Blog Awards! I found out I had been selected in the shortlist for Lifestyle Blogger of the Year on my last morning in Devon in the most perfect way - through my whatsapp group of blogging baes. My alarm went off, I looked at the lock screen and all I could see was OMG GWENNAN messages from the girls and then right at the bottom the Twitter notification from Blogosphere themselves. Honestly the proudest most surreal moment of my life, a bloody big honour, a huge confidence boost and flippin heck did I feel the love that day when my phone ran out of battery because of all the people tweeting me their congratulations.
11. Partied with my niece.
How at twenty five I am an auntie to a two and a half year old I don't know but appaz the little baby that tipped my world upside down back in 2015 is now a toddler and this year we celebrated her 2 years on this planet. She had a family birthday party in her grandparents house with a My Little Pony cake (Pinky Pie fyi) and loads of balloons. She wore a party dress, she got a doctors kit, she blew out her candles and facetimed her other Auntie who couldn't be there to open her gifts. I, in the spirit of starting them young, bought her an easel and now I credit all masterpieces and future success to me.
12. Went on jury service.
A surprisingly hefty portion of the year that is still affecting me even now was the two weeks at the end of June I did jury service in Cardiff crown court. It happened to be that really sexy 36 degree heat wave which was divine in a non air conditioned court hearing a harrowing case and I had to emergency shop smart clothes and dresses but I found it really powerful. It's a lot to take in but having done it once, I'm actually really proud of the role I played.
13. Gave my Mum the benefits of having a blog.
The older I get the more I value my Mum, something I doubt I'm alone in so to be able to give her the benefits of blogging back in the summer was a joy. I was invited to review Jamie's Italian breakfast (still dreaming about it btw) and took her as my guest she she bloody loved it. To take her out after a particularly tough week at our house, to treat her to something and then make the excuse to spend the day together in Cardiff was lovely and something I don't get to do often, and something I expect I'll wish I'd done more of in years to come.
14. Saw Bieber live.
Sometimes in life your friend messages you the day you finish jury service feeling a little sorry for yourself and says she's home from Cornwall and has free Justin Bieber tickets. And sometimes you just don't turn down free gig tickets. Myself and my two pals and some Mums and about twenty million teenagers went to see Bieber in the Millennium in Cardiff and ya know what? We had such a good night. No the sound quality wasn't great, no I couldn't tell what he was singing unless I recognised the beat of the music but we danced, we filmed, we laughed a lot and we caught up because these are the oldest of old school friends and no matter where we get together, be that in town, in our houses or in a JB concert - it's always perfect.
15. Moved back to my parents house for a week.
Back at the end of July my parents went on holiday and I moved back into their house for 10 days or so to cat sit. Joss was working so didn't come with me, I slept SO well, I didn't run terrified of the fact I was home alone for the first time ever, I locked myself out, I smashed a glass on the first night and I watched more GOT repeats than I'd like to admit. And I found it totally weird.
16. Went on a rainy mini break.
Admittedly in the end it didn't feel like much of a mini break at all but it was intended that way. Joss and I travelled to Dorset (somewhere we're going back to in a few weeks) to meet my parents on the tail end of their fortnight away and it uhm, rained. A lot. One day me and my Mum didn't even make it out of the house to battle the storms and the raging rain and wind and fog only to get food (priorities and that). We did go to Brownsea Island which is a National Trust island off the coast of Poole which I definitely wish we'd spent longer on and could probably move there or summin.
17. Sold a lot of cider.
I've said it before on the blog but it's something people still don't seem to know about me so I'll say it again; we live on Joss' family farm and orchard, an orchard which just so happens to fuel the family cider company. Yes my friends the girl who doesn't drink lives on a cider making orchard (I'm not a great taster). This year we've sold a butt load of cider and been at a million and one fairs and markets and we're only really just getting started. This time of year is prime cider time when all the picking and pressing gets done so next years stock is being made mid week and we're selling off last year's on the weekend. And it's only set to get busier before Christmas!
18. Went to Folly Farm.
For sure the cutest memory of the summer was a rainy August weekend in Folly Farm for my niece. ELEVEN adults took one toddler to see the animals and it rained and rained and rained some more but she had the best time and she talks about it still. For her to have memories with both sets of grandparents and aunties and boyfriends as well as a great grandmother and her own parents was a bloody delight and something I know she'll treasure (no really, at 2 her memory is beyond belief) as much as we did spending it with her.
19. Made two banging cakes.
After a family wedding in July, everyone got together again for my Uncle's 60th in August and I decorated the cake. He wanted it to have all the family on it which took me a cute 3 hours or something ridiculous but I was so happy with the final result I foolishly agreed to make it again for the blogging girls. A hidden talent I bet ya didn't know I had?
20. Spent August bank holiday in Bristol.
After agreeing to spend August bank holiday in Bristol with my uni flatmate I found out there were no trains running so what should have taken me half hour took me 1 and a bit plus the bridge fare cos I drove instead. Luckily it was another scorcher (I really feel like we had no summer though?) so it made the drive ideal cos lord knows I love a road trip. She had a full house, we cooked macaroni cheese for everyone, I saw her boyfriend and sister who I haven't seen in forever, we went on a million mile long walk and treated ourselves with an ice cream and a fanta at the end and we topped it all off with a cheeky episode of The Life Of Kylie as if we were back in uni together all over again.
21. Got a godson.
Yup that same pal I convinced not to keep the bath way back in January gave birth to a cheeky little man who decided he didn't want to hang on to my birthday to be born. He was due just last week, I hoped he'd hang on till today but no he decided to be a summer baby and came a funky seven weeks early back in August. I am itching to meet him, Manchester in November can't come soon enough and I am so ready to squish the both of them with hugs. Auntie Gwennan yet again.
22. Went away with strangers.
Undoubtedly the highlight of this year was my blogger weekend away, if not for the people I shared it with (who were a bit of alright) but for the sheer good it did to my soul. I ignored my family for the weekend, I didn't check in with the news, I didn't worry about next week or the food shop or the cars MOT.....I just clocked off for 2 and a half days with the best people and I felt like a new person coming out of it. I honestly can't say enough about this group of friends or put into words how epic that weekend was but I came home all the better for it.
23. Decorated for Halloween for the first time.
Last weekend Joss and I went on a lil date day after a miserable morning selling cider in the rain and had a big ass meal and stocked up on Halloween decs. For the first time I decorated the house, Joss made pumpkin pie and his Mum got us loads of exciting glittery witchy things and I am a bit in love with the house right now. And I know this tradition can only get better as time goes on (can you imagine the house at Halloween in 10 years time?)
24. Taught my niece.
A million and one things. What road we're on, how to say peculiar, what our pigs like to eat, how to high five, what bath mats are for, what to say when she's burped, how to file her nails, when to use please and thank you, what our dogs are called. This little girl makes life all the more brighter and even on the shittest of days or the crappest of weeks life is fun when it's with her. Seeing the world through a child's eyes and hearing them learn to sing songs or start using their imagination or recite something you've told them is the best. Everything is more exciting when she's in it.
Here's to year 25!