18 November, 2013

Weekend Update: Manchester Christmas Markets

How was your weekend lovely followers?

Mine was spent checking out the awesome Manchester Christmas Markets which opened on Friday night. I had the pleasure of strolling around in the cold, all wrapped up and drinking creamy, hot chocolate all at the same time. It was, without a doubt, the best hot chocolate I've ever had. I think being in the cold and drinking something so hot and delicious was soothing.

If you find yourself in Manchester between now and December 22nd, I can't recommend the markets highly enough. There is an array of food stalls, amazing handmade gifts on sale and German style pop up bars serving all kinds of mulled wine and hot apple cider. I reckon the markets will be a regular haunt for me over the next couple of weekends so do pop down to the city centre.

The boy and I also strolled over to the ice rink and laughed as we watched many a skater grip on to the edge of the rink for dear life. We also watched young children, who without a second thought, would jump and skip in the air and perform all kinds of tricks. I envy their lack of fear. I've never tried ice skating, but I will be soon! Some work colleagues have organised a mini Christmas party to the ice rink, so I'll have to start practicing my best Torvil and Dean impression pretty soon. 

I'm starting to feel a bit festive. I haven't a present bought for anyone and I've yet to start making Christmas cards for friends and family, but the opening of the markets and listening to Christmas song in work has me in fine festive form. I get I better get cracking on that Christmas present list.

Are you feeling the Christmas spirit yet?

11 November, 2013

The Grateful List #1

If I'm honest, I've been a bit of a 'Moaning Mary' of late. The nights are drawing in, it's much, much colder and the dark mornings are making me feel a bit meh! I should be stopping to smell the coffee a bit more and appreciate the lovely things I do have in my life. I think, sometimes we can all be a little guilty of not being grateful for what we do have rather than what we don't have. 

I'm also guilty of playing the comparison game. Looking at what others have, wishing I had it too and assuming their life is one, big, perfect story. It's not always that way and it's time to be grateful for the things I do have in my life and to appreciate the lovely little moments that life can sometimes offer up. Introducing, my first grateful list.

1. Our lovely rented apartment. It's modern, cosy and within walking distance to the city centre
2. All the lovely hot cups of tea my co-workers make me. (I do make some in return!)
3. Crunchy Autumn leaves and the colours that Autumn offers up
4. A gym membership. At £20 a month, I'm grateful that I can afford it. (I should go more!)
5. A full time job. Enough said
6. Hot, chocolaty and creamy mocha's - offered in work and a steal at £1.60
7. My health. 
8. Brightly coloured nail polish. It scares Winter away, or so I'm told.
9. Weekends off. Weekends off are just lovely - have a lie in, go away for the day, take a stroll - whatever!
10. Family - even if they are mad and we often drive each other nuts.

What would make your grateful list?

10 November, 2013

Making new friends as an adult

Aged four, you're popped into a school uniform, given a lunch box of ham sandwich goodies and brought to the school gates. This is your first day of school and so begins your educational career. Some love school, some hate it and some (like myself) fall somewhere in the middle of a love / hate school relationship. 

Where ever you fell on the love / hate spectrum, the one thing we all had in common were the friends we made during our school years. You and your classmates were the same age, were experiencing the same 'first day of school' angst and tears, but together you would overcome it, learn your ABC's and play kiss - catch in the school yard at break. Life was good, even if you didn't realise or understand it at the time.

I would hazzard a guess and say your current batch of friends are made up as follows:

- A small handful of friends who you attended primary and secondary school with.
- A small handful of friends who you attended secondary school with
- A small handful of friends who you attended college / university with
- Other friends you met via other friends, work, travelling, grew up with or are related to.

My group of close friends is primarily made up from the above categories but the total number comes about 10 to 15. Maybe less, maybe more. Before I left Ireland, I would see some friends once a year, others, because I worked with them, I would see daily. Either way we all enjoyed each others company, got on well, had the banter, enjoyed nights out together and generally were there for each other.

Making friends as a thirty something adult is a different ball game altogether. Your priorities and those of others your age have shifted. Perhaps some of the people you've met are married, perhaps they have children or perhaps they're in the process of buying a house and don't have the socializing funds they possessed as a go-getter 27 year old. I'm none of the above. I'm not married, have no plans for children and I am so far from buying a house, I'll probably be 50 by the time that's a possibility.

So, how, in a new city do you make friends, real friends? How do you meet like minded people that you would like to call a friend? A friend that you can call in an emergency, when you're having a bad day or perhaps you're feeling weepy and you just saw the John Lewis Christmas ad and you now need a good shoulder to cry on.

The obvious answers are to take up a class of sorts, join a team of something or other and just get out there and engage with people. But, for me that still falls short of the kind of friendships I'd like to make. So far (and I do realise it's very early days) I haven't really found obvious ways of meeting the kind of people that I know a) will like me and b) that I will like in return. My school / college / old work friends get me and my personality quirks. I can be myself around them and together we can recount random nights out, funny incidents and laugh until our sides hurt.

Starting afresh is different. Scary almost. Similar to a first date, you want to come across as a new potential great friend in waiting. You've lots to offer, are available for the middle of the night emergencies and you are willing to help stalk you new friends ex on Facebook. All standard friend tasks and duties, I'm sure you'll agree. You want your potential new friend to rave about you, tell his / her friends about you and invite you into their close circle. You want to be part of something bigger....or at least I do.

Or maybe there's an easier solution, to go out there, chat to everyone and anyone and generally not give a sh*t about what someone thinks of you. If it clicks, it clicks. If it doesn't, move on, and find a new potential friend to audition for and maybe, just maybe, by this time next year you'll be the one dishing out 'How to make friends' advice to some other poor soul.

For now, you'll find me at work, in random coffee shops and browsing every charity shop Manchester has to offer. Maybe I'll bump into you, my new B.F.F, there!

04 November, 2013

Dudes, It's November Already and Four Goals

Er, sorry, can somebody call 2013 and tell him / her / it to come back?

I, along with every other person in the blogging world (and probably, on the planet!) am sat here wondering, where has 2013 gone? We're a few days into November and already I'm having one of those 'I don't feel like I really accomplished' much this year moments.

Ok, ok, I moved to the UK and took up a new job, but I have other personal goals that I wanted to work on. Given that there is a little less than two months left of dear, sweet 2013, I'm wondering what goals (big or small) I can accomplish?

And so, with that, I've selected four goals. Two big(ish) goals and two mini goals. A little something if you wish to focus on over the next 8 weeks.

// Big(ish) goal number 1
Ah yes, that old chestnut. The good news is that I've joined a 24 hour gym, located right around the corner from my apartment. It's big, bright and for the first time in a long time, I really like this particular gym. My fitness goal, to go three times a week every week from now until Christmas. I have three sessions scheduled in for this week and time for a fourth two if it takes my fancy.

//Big(ish) goal number 2
Blog posting
The goal - to write 40 compelling and interesting blog posts between now and December 31st. Since moving from Ireland and changing jobs, I do have more time to blog which I'm happy about. I find myself planning more posts, writing in advance and generally giving more thought and consideration to the type of posts I want to publish and that I hope others find interesting.

//Mini goal number 3
Now that I'm being a big girl, paying rent and bills, I gotta watch those pennies alot better. The first mini goal is to simply download a simple budget and er...budget! I took a salary cut to move to the UK and this combined with all the bills is a little bit scary. I'm used to having more money to spend on spontaneous shopping trips and restaurants that take my fancy. While some of this is still possible, it's not possible on quite the grand scale I've become accustom to. It's time to become a thrifty diva who knows her finances inside out and back to front!

//Mini goal number 4
Healthy eating
No chocolate, no junk food, no takeaways and no excuses. I'm giving this goal a target date of Christmas. We both know I wouldn't outlive this goal past Christmas when all those yummy selection boxes are on offer, but as the old saying goes, "You can't out work a bad diet". My healthy eating combined with the gym regime should see me feeling alot better.

Have you guys got any Winter goals coming up?
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