2014 In A Nutshell

Beep…….. Beep…… Beep…… Did you hear that?!

It’s the sound of Keeping It Welsh being shocked back into life! *Hooray*

As you can all imagine my transition from Cardiff to Reading wasn’t as smooth as I would’ve liked and my new job has been keeping me nice and busy!

Although this may seem a bit late to be posting this I thought I’d look back at what my aspirations were for last year and how many of them I accomplished.

– Learn to play the piano

Epic Fail

– Take the next step in my career

Completed! “I’m moving on up, moving on up”

– Move back into a flat on my own

Even more of an epic fail, currently back living with mum

– Get a cover up tattoo on my wrist + one new tattoo

Cover up booked in for May, getting my new one in July

– Become a British Heart Foundation volunteer

Didn’t manage to support BHF last year but volunteered at Race for Life with fellow blogger…

‘Welsh Girl Problems’

– Run the Cardiff Half Marathon

Had already moved back to Reading… *sigh*

– Go to the MTV EMAs 2014 in Glasgow

New job threw this out the window entirely

– Learn sign language

Learnt the very basics, still ongoing

– Go camping (I’ve never been…)

Went to Lowlands Festival in Holland AND CAMPED! Was a bloody amazing trip and I’d most definitely go again!

– Give blood

Still need to overcome my fear of needles

– Fall in love

Sadly, it happened.

– Go to 10 gigs/concerts/shows

Completed!

– Eat at 20 new places

Made it to 14… so almost

– Bake at least once a month

Failed miserably

– Visit 5 places on my UK list

I actually saw more places in the UK than I ever have last year, none of them were the designed 5 I’d chosen though

– Try a new sport

Does a Netflix marathon count??

– Do something that scares me

I did the thing which scared me the most… I bared my soul to someone and dropped the L bomb for the very first time.

How I Kept It Welsh

For so long it was my dream to move to Cardiff and 2 years ago I achieved that dream and made the move from Reading to start my new job here. It’s been the best couple of years of my whole life and I have made the most amazing friends who I am going to be very sad to say goodbye to when I start my new job in Reading in a couple of weeks.

When I started looking back at the things I’ve had the chance to do since living here it made me realise just how lucky I have been to have so many opportunities to get involved in exciting things.

So these are the highlights of my time in Cardiff…this is how I spent my time… Keeping It Welsh!

Welsh Flag

Welsh Varsity is a grudge match of epic proportions. Cardiff vs Swansea it’s all or nothing!

Varsity 2013 was the night I met the beautiful Ieva! On a night out a couple of months after I moved to Cardiff, Ieva was bartending at what used to be Pica Pica. I stayed until closing and she came out partying with me for the rest of the night. We ended up in Live Lounge and I acquired a Varsity t-shirt from a random man in the street!

This year Sarah and I actually went to watch the match at the Millennium Stadium. There was such an electrifying atmosphere with all the rivalry banter and drunken shouting. As it’s typically a student event we thought we would feel a bit out of place but there were plenty of other ‘gatecrashers’ and we drank so much cider that we just made friends with everyone there.

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Cardiff Retail Awards 2013 was the professional highlight of my career. With the awards ceremony taking place on my birthday I was excited to say the least and knew there was some really stiff competition in our category. We had a champagne reception and a beautifully cooked dinner and then as the awards came around it was my turn to go on stage and find out my fate. Beating out several other retailers including John Lewis; they announced that my store had won Best Customer Service in Cardiff which was an absolute dream come true and was so rewarding after all the hard work myself and my team had put in.

Retail Awards

St David’s Shopping Centre put a call out for entries for their new blogging team in early 2013 and having just started up my own blog properly I jumped at the chance to get involved. I sent off a mock post to them and got an email the following week saying I had been chosen to be their resident Food & Drinks Blogger. I’ve been to so many amazing restaurants and met some outstanding people including some of my fellow resident bloggers Steph, Joshwa and Eve.

Blog Events

Photography was always something I’d been interested in but always felt unless I really knew what I was doing and had a top-notch camera that I had no business trying to showcase my photos. Over the last year however I have posted many of them on Twitter and had so much positive feedback that it’s really encouraged me to keep going.

Photography

In May this year I was given the massive responsibility of holding the ‘keys’ to Cardiff on the ‘Cardiff Is Yours’ Twitter account. I spent a week tweeting about where I liked going and what I was doing and essentially shared ‘My Cardiff’ with everyone. It was a pleasure to have the chance to get to know so many people through it and I was able to write a blog post for the masterminds behind ‘Cardiff Is Yours’  and also one for Citysocializer.

The one and only Jamie Laing…

Back in October last year I attended the Student Lock-In where I interviewed the one and only Jamie Laing from Made In Chelsea. As a die-hard fan of the show I was pretty much incapable of shaking while I was talking to him but he put me at ease and answered the questions I had for him. We didn’t talk for very long as he had a queue of people waiting to meet him but it was still amazing fun and he’s such a great guy!

Jamie

When I first moved to Cardiff I was finding it difficult to meet people outside of work so I joined Citysocializer which is essentially a local social networking group. Throughout my time with them I became a Community Host and helped to build up the Cardiff base to a team of almost 15 hosts with on average 4 socials every day. Some of the highlights for me were hosting the Halloween party last year, Mexican Night at the flat which I share with my flatmate (who I met through CS) & the Valentines Mingle at Vodka Revs which saw over 30 single Citysocializers descend for cocktails.

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I’ve been to some amazing gigs since living in Cardiff but my favourites have to be Our Last Night (Clwb Ifor Bach), Daytona Lights (Buffalo Bar) & Young Kato (Clwb Ifor Bach). They are both great venues and I had the chance to mix with all of the bands once they had finished. I ended up doing shots with the lead guitarist from Daytona Lights…Total hottie!

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I have made some of the most exceptional people living in Cardiff and have friends for life in them! Whether it’s a been a fellow blogger, people I’ve dated or my flatmate they have each contributed to making me the person I am today.

I have to say though, the biggest achievement for me has been this… my own blog. Something I started as more of a journal when I first moved here has now become an outlet for my passions. A place for people to read what’s hot and what’s not and actually want to know my opinion. It’s amazing to have such an influence and I have been presented with exceptional opportunities to attend events which has helped me grow my blog and develop my writing style. What began as a humble WordPress page is now a fully fledged ‘.com’ and my reviews can be found on sites all over the internet which I never thought would happen.

Cardiff…you have been amazing!

X

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Looking ahead to the 2014 madness…

As promised, here is my list of things I would like to do in 2014.

This works so much better for me than a New Year’s Resolution as it’s much more specific than simply ‘Go travelling’ or ‘Lose weight’

I’ve already had some great help and suggestions from people on Twitter and Facebook on how I can accomplish most of these.

If you have any suggestions or recommendations be sure to email them to me… likewise if you’d to come with me or offer to help that’s even better!

You’ll notice that the list doesn’t contain any crazy travel plans… at the moment I’m not in the position to go very far. I have a demanding job and am currently paying off my last holiday so would rather get the things closer to home done this year so that I can go all out next year!

– Make Keeping It Welsh a dot.com    DONE

– Learn to play the piano

– Take the next step in my career

– Move back into a flat on my own

– Get a cover up tattoo on my wrist + one new tattoo

– Become a British Heart Foundation volunteer

– Run the Cardiff Half Marathon

– Go to the MTV EMAs 2014 in Glasgow

– Learn sign language

– Go camping (I’ve never been…)

– Give blood

– Fall in love

– Go to 10 gigs/concerts/shows

Jan 2nd- Smokin Aces    DONE

Feb 3rd- Our Last Night

Feb 16th- George Ezra

March 26th- Josh Widdicombe

– Eat at 20 new places

– Bake at least once a month

– Visit 5 places on my UK list

Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye ( Scotland)

Whitby, North Yorkshire (England)

Clovelly, Devon (England)

Giants Causeway (Northern Ireland)

Fingals Cave (Scotland)

– Try a new sport

Learning to surf in August

– Do something that scares me

Learning how to crew a hot air balloon in March

 

 

 

2013 in a nutshell…

Yes I realise this is probably way overdue…

I had no intention of writing about 2013 to begin with, in a way it’s a year I could probably have forgotten all about for all the drama that I went through… the stress of packing up my whole life and moving here, a failed relationship, and the realisation that I was drinking far too much alcohol in order to cope with the way I was feeling. 

I could have quite happily left it all there in 2013…

I do however want to write about my exciting plans for 2014 but feel I can’t do this until I explain where I’m already at.

I will post later about my list for this year, but for now you can enjoy the things that I am happy that I achieved last year:

– This blog was born…my baby!

– Moved in with my new flatmate

– Won a retail award

– Learnt to kayak

– Held a wine tasting session

– Became a Citysocializer host

– Started learning Welsh

– Aced my fear of dogs!

– Dyed my hair red… for about 4 months

– Went Geo-Caching

– Became the resident Food & Drink blogger for St David’s Shopping Centre

– Learnt to Salsa dance

– Hosted a cocktail masterclass

– Volunteered as a Childline schools service counsellor

– Went to see Young Kato at Clwb Ifor Bach and Daytona Lights at Buffalo Bar

– Now refer to myself Half-English instead of Half-Welsh

Making Friends In A New City and The Big Apple Competition

The end of December officially marked 1 year in Cardiff for me, which is insane because it feels like only yesterday that I packed up my life and moved here with 3 weeks notice before opening my own store. At the same time, though, it feels like a lifetime ago that I was living in Reading with my mum and sister. So, so many things in my life have changed. My life in Cardiff is a world away now from the one I used to lead. 

Since moving here, I’ve had a lot of requests for a post on how to make friends in a new city. And while I, by no means, consider myself a pro, I thought I might as well share what I have learnt.

Now don’t get me wrong… I wasn’t trying to replace the friends I already had.

The problem when you move is that you begin to realise that we’re not all the same. When you’re not living the same life as you did with your friends [wake up, go to work, go to the gym, dating, eat, go out.], priorities become very real.

There are people that will still go out every night, rolling into work hungover but somehow magically presentable.

There are people that get married and have babies right away.

There are those that fly through work, pouring themselves into everything, climbing and climbing… This is the category I fall into at the moment!

Then there are those who are slowly trying to figure it out – manage a balance of work life and  enjoying adulthood.

My life in Cardiff really began though, when I discovered Citysocializer…

When I first moved here, my life was so busy that I couldn’t always rely on my friends being free to visit and to do what I wanted with, when I wanted. So often I found myself missing out and staying in when all I wanted to do was go out and let my hair down.

Whether you’re new in town, or your friends are out of town, Citysocializer lets you enjoy a great social life without the pain of organizing one. An easy way to fill in those last minute moments when you feel like going out.

Members are fun-loving and sociable people…like me… who organize cool nights out and activities for the rest of us to join in with- from after-work drinks and checking out the latest pop-up restaurants, to running groups, book clubs, festivals, holidays and everything in between.

Once you’ve been to a few you’re encouraged to host your own social to pay back to your local community… I’m now an official host and regularly host socials each month, including my regular Tapas Tuesday night and Breakfast Club.

Citysocializer is a subscription-based social networking website. The mobile and web-based service helps you tap into local social scenes and has now announced that it’s going freemium as it looks to drive growth in cities across the UK.

Founded in 2007 as Citysocialising by former BBC producer Sanchita Saha, the app rebranded as Citysocializer back in June just as it rolled out its first native mobile app (iOS). Though it’s currently very UK-centric, Citysocializer has been looking to push into the broader social sphere with a subscription-based approach to finding new friends anywhere in the world. Citysocializer’s app even plots social gatherings on a map to let you see local activities at a glance.

To announce the exciting launch of Citysocializer being launched in New York you can join Citysocializer using my unique link below which will give you 10 free credits when you sign up, giving you the chance to join a social for free and see what it’s all about.

To make this launch even more exciting, if you join using the link below you will be entered into a fantastic competition…

Citysocializer are giving you and a friend a chance the chance to discover The Big Apple in 5*style!

Win a 3 night break* including return flights and…

  • – 3 nights at 5* Soho Grand Hotel
  • – A helicopter tour of NYC
  • – Tickets to the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty
  • – Tickets to top of the world famous Rockafeller Centre
  • – Hop on Hop off Buss Passes for 3 days
  • – Return private car transfers

https://www.citysocializer.com/invite/237087

The truth…

At some point growing up I decided that the only way to survive in the world was to shut down and close off my heart. I’m sure given a choice I would have chosen only to avoid the pain of life… not the pleasure… but open or shut were the only options available.

Most of the time, everyone and everything around me was inconsistent, physically and emotionally. A broken family, turbulent relationships and an appalling time at school all contributed to this.

Every time I started to get settled, it would all disappear. I had no control, and I couldn’t trust anything. It became unbearable.

I couldn’t make people or the world go away, so instead I shut up shop and hid my true self away from them, behind a mask…

I put a smile on my face, and became a reflection to others’ wishes—like the princess in the tower, a prize to be admired, completely untouchable.

I had the perfect disguise…

Today…years later I am a rather different person,

On my journey to get here, I felt like an adrenaline junkie, always seeking out excitement and pushing it to the edge.

Out of fear I tried to control the relationships in my life, as I had learned to control my emotions. I also looked for others to control me instead, always believing that power equalled love…Oh, how wrong I was…

The truth, though, was that I was still avoiding the depths of my own emotions.

It was falling in love though that would take me there and break me there.

With no warning a man came into my life, and I fell uncontrollably and unconditionally in love for the first time. I was completely unprepared and terrified.

But this wasn’t a fairy tale.

He didn’t rescue me, and I didn’t rescue him. Instead, I saw myself reflected in his confused and sometimes harsh approach to my deep longing.

And after a while, I began to realise…

He couldn’t love me, because I didn’t.

All the bottled pain, loneliness, and rage came crashing out of me like a wild thing let loose. It wasn’t neat, tidy, or controllable. It was messy, scary, and tremendously painful. It took time to heal the wounds that had been left unattended for so long.

Instead, I had to learn see it for what it was—just stuck energy that I needed to release to be happy.

I now generally live my life playing freely in the wide expanse where the two meet, being aware of me, the best I can.

It’s a balancing act—avoiding those extremes. It’s when we master this that we can love freely and live true to ourselves.