V is for Vacation

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You can find information about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge here or read the rest of my A to Z posts by following this link.

The season is fast-moving from Spring into Summer and conversations with friends, family and work colleagues is turning toward holidays and vacations so, with todays Blogging from A to Z April Challenge letter being V I decided to share some vacation destinations and memories of my own.

I have rarely left the UK, where I live to go on holiday, the times I did go abroad were a long time ago, the first trip I made was in the winter of 1998 when I visited Aachen in Germany with my Aunt who was a languages teacher.  Along with her class we travelled by coach and on the ferry from Dover to Germany for a 24 hour Christmas shopping trip.  I loved this fleeting trip, there was so much to see and do.  The markets that we visited had lots of hand-made, traditional gifts that we could purchase and I remember being given mulled wine or cider from many of the vendors which was really tasty.  I remember there being snow on the ground and of a visit to a church that had cushions on the floor for you to lie on so you could admire the artwork on the ceilings without getting dizzy.  I remember eating some lovely crepes and some kind of donut balls and giant pretzels that were bigger than your head!  And I remember the journey back, our ferry couldn’t dock for hours because of a storm and lots of my aunt’s students got sick.  I was lucky and managed to escape sea sickness.  To pass the time I took myself off on a walk around the ferry and visited a few of the on-board shops that they had.

The next trip abroad that I went on was one to Lourdes.  I went with my church group and worked as a volunteer helping with the sick people who were there, some of this work took place in a large hospital or hospice there and we had to get the visitors ready for going out, feed and clothe them and accompany them on the day out.  We went for a midnight candle lit vigil at The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes which was as moving as it was beautiful.  I don’t really remember much else of this trip aside from a huge thunder-storm that we had on the last day we were there, we were loading up the coaches for our trip back and it was as if someone had ripped the sky apart, the noise was deafening.  The storm came complete with hail stones that were huge and after 5 minutes littered the ground and almost came up to our knees.

Other vacations I have been on have been in this country.  I owned a Volkswagen T25 pop top camper and went away in it yearly.  Mostly I toured the South and West of Wales, visiting beaches and little bays, ports and doing a lot of walking.  One of my favorite sites to stay on is Celtic Camping which is situated on the Pembrokeshire coastline in West Wales.  It is the perfect spot to stay at, the site is fairly quiet and has spectacular views.  You can pretty much park up wherever you fancy on site and there is an option to have a proper camp fire if you want, and for me, camping with a fire is just perfect to me.  This site is not too far a drive from St Davids which is home to the loveliest cathedral.  Porthgain is not too far away ether, I have both driven and walked from the campsite.  There is a pub worth checking out there called The Sloop that do some really tasty food and beer!

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I’ve not yet thought about vacations this year, I don’t have my camper anymore so think I will be having lots of little day trips instead but, hopefully, some o

f them will involve a day out at a beach and lots of icecream too!!

Many of the places I have stayed at have been close to beaches, for me a summer vacation is not the same without seeing, or setting foot on a beach!

What sort of vacations have you been on?

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U is for Urban Vinyl

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You can find information about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge here or read the rest of my A to Z posts by following this link.

Todays Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is the letter U and Urban Vinyl.

So, what is Urban Vinyl?  Well, it can be classed as art, designer toys, collectables and many other things.  I really like Urban Vinyl as many of the pieces are designed or decorated by artists, one of my favorite stores is Artoyz which do so many different figures, from The Simpsons through to Super Heroes.  There are ranges of figurines that are all the same shape and form that have been decorated by different people and I love how different each look (for example Dunny’s by KidRobot)

I have a few different pieces…

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These are all part of the Smorking Labbit range by KidRobot.  The slug is one of my favorite pieces, he’s called “Bob the Amazing Action Slug” and I have had him for so many years now I can barely remember when I bought him.

One of the nicest things about many of the Urban Vinyl figures that you can buy, is that many of them are limited edition but pocket friendly in price.  There are a different array of figures you can buy depending on what you want to spend.  the other thing I love is that you can add art pieces to your home that have personality and their own character style.

Other Urban Vinyl artists that I love are Lunartik and his Cup of Tea range, and Medicom, especially his BearBrick series.

Do you have any Urban Vinyl?

T is for Thankful

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You can find information about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge here or read the rest of my A to Z posts by following this link.

Today’s post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge was going to be about television  but, as I don’t really watch tv, it seemed like a really silly topic for me to blog about, so, instead, today, this post is going to be abput being thankful.

I’ve been thinking a lot, recently, about how in this day and age, people are always wanting bigger and better, newer and more fancy things, more social media followers and, in general, just more, more, more.  No one seems to stop and be thankful for what they have any more and are always seeming to be on the look out for ways to improve on what they have.  You see it in cleverly engineered adverts, designed to make us think that we want the most up to date car or phone, or kitchen appliance, and adverts are not just created to suck in the adults, advertisers are targeting children from a young age.  i witnessed a mother with her child out shopping the other week and all that seemed to come from the child’s mouth was “I want, I want, I want” and when the mother tried to explain to her kid that he had similar at home the child said that it was an old version and wasn’t cool to play with anymore.

I have taken a stand against this and no longer buy magazines, I hardly watch tv, nor do I spend a lot of time on social media, rarely seeing an advert for anything.  On top of that I have started to write down things that I have been thankful for on a day-to-day basis.  Some of the things I am thankful for are small, almost, silly things and others are bigger.  Heres what I have for today.

I am thankful for my kettle and mug, without them I would be unable to kick-start my day in the best way I know how.

I am thankful for the sunny mornings and warm days which have enabled me to get out into the garden and work on setting up my flower bed/veg patch.

I am thankful for my dog, without her I wouldn’t smile half as much.

I am thankful for my car, it’s not new, but it is all mine and it gets me to and from work and other places safely.

I am thankful for my family and friends who are always there for me no matter what.

I am thankful for my home, it gives me shelter and a place to feel safe.

I am thankful for my phone and laptop which I use regularly to blog and watch Netflix on.

I have so much, day-to-day, to be thankful for, the list could be endless if I were to write down everything.  There is something really nice, and almost Mindful about writing down a list of things to be thankful for.  And, no matter how bad a day I could have had, I can turn those feelings around just by taking part in this simple exercise.

What are you thankful for?  Let me know in the comments!

S is for Social Media

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You can find information about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge here or read the rest of my A to Z posts by following this link.

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Today’s post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is about Social Media.

Back in the day, way back when social media sites were just starting to emerge, I had a MySpace account and really loved being able to connect with friends and family, make new friends and be able to write about my thoughts and feelings, share music and customise my site to the max.  Then Facebook seemed to arrive out of no where and my MySpace account was abandoned as all my friends seemed to prefer Facebook.  For years I loved my Facebook account and would post to it several times a day.  I loved to read what my friends were doing.  Facebook then introduced sharing of photos and it was nice to see my friends pictures as well as read what was going on in their lives.  Eventually Facebook introduced sharing of websites, news articles, memes and eventually, with so many selling groups becoming popular, they introduced Marketplace.  I stopped seeing what my friends were doing and my feed became a mishmash of music videos, re-posted memes and adverts and that’s when I decided to quit the platform.

I had, and still have my original Instagram account and have made one specifically for the blog (you can find that here), I also have a Twitter, a Pinterest account and I can be found on Bloglovin’.  I’m not particularly active on any of them.

I had plans to be active on all my social media platforms and in several of my Monthly Goals posts have set myself a goal of learning about the platforms that I have and start using them more effectively but in all honesty, I am put off by the whole numbers game and all the other silly games that are played there in order to get noticed.  There are people who follow you in the hope that you will follow back, regardless of whether the things they post are interesting to you, and then you get unfollowed the day later because you didn’t follow back.  There are people with hundreds and thousands of followers but when you look at the interaction on each post, there only seem to be a handful of likes or comments.  People seem to be obsessed with the number of followers that you have, the higher the amount the more interesting you become to brands and the more “influencer” you are.  But, from what I have looked at, and what I have seen, there seems to be a flaw there, the more followers you have should not mean anything.  Just because you have 4000 followers, does not mean that they will all see your posts and like the image and be swayed into buying the product, it just means that you have a higher potential reach.  I have looked at people who have smaller numbers of followers and they seem to get a higher percentage of likes and comments than those with more followers.

And, the whole numbers thing is just one element that I’m tired of.  The other thing I am getting bored with is the amount of images that are shared that are styled so much and look magazine perfect.  I’m not against this at all, I think a beautifully styled image is lovely, but I also want to see images that have just been shot in the moment and are not perfect.  We all have flaws, images have flaws and that makes us human.

I have been reading a lot about Instagram and have read several articles about how you should pick a theme for your feed, so that all the images tie in with each other, whether it is using the same background, or colour scheme, or the same filter, and while I agree with this to some extent, I am perfectly happy to post things that please me and fit in with me as a person, rather than me as a brand.

And, I think, really, that is what I struggle with, and maybe why I am not so active on social media, the whole idea that you have to be your own brand and develop your social media channels to fit that brand.  And that is also why I prefer my blog, and reading other people’s blogs, either here on WordPress or over on Blogger, most of the bloggers that I follow have an honesty about them, a sort of what you read is what you get, sort of style, and I hope that, along the way, when you read my blog posts, that you get a true understanding of who I am and what I am about.

What are your thoughts on social media?

R is for Roxy Takes Over

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You can find information about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge here or read the rest of my A to Z posts by following this link.

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Mummy said that today, because the letter for the April A to Z Challenge is R, that I could take over her blog for the day!  I had to promise not to change anything on her blog though and I was only allowed to write this post, I had to agree with her but if I had my way, I’d change all her blog posts to pictures of me because I’m sure I’m much more interesting to look at than the posts she writes!

I’ve been watching and helping Mummy with her blogging since she started this blog so I sort of know what I am doing but, incase there are any mistakes then I will apologise now!  Hooman typey pads are not made for pupper toes to use easily!

So, how is everyone doing today?  I’ve been having a lovely sleep, its one of my very favorite things to do apart from snoozing and napping and digging.  I’ve really been liking the weather we are having at the moment, its been sunny but not too hot – perfect weather for a little play in the garden while Mummy digs for treasures.  She says that she is preparing the flower bed so she can plant some things to grow but she seems to be making big piles that are just stones and weeds…

The other day, my Mummy and Uncle went out in the day and came back with some new toys for me, they said they were Easter presents but I don’t know what that means… all I know is I have 3 new toys that I can get everyone to play with!  I had a piggy that you unscrew and Mummy puts these circle treats on, they take aaaagggggeeesss to get back off but they are yummy!  I also had a throwy thing and a tug toy that is really heavy duty, I don’t think I will be able to destroy it as quickly as other toys though!

How are you liking Mummys posts on the A to Z Challenge?  She has been working super hard on them, she tells me about them but I forget to listen sometimes….  How are you all doing on the challenge?  I think I will get Mummy to read some to me, she has read a few different ones to me when we are going to sleep!

Hope you all have a lovely day!  I hope Mummy lets me blog with you all again soon!  I’m off for a little nap now, blogging is super tiring isn’t it?

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Q is for Quiet

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You can find information about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge here or read the rest of my A to Z posts by following this link.

Todays Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter is Q and the topic I have chosen for this letter is Quiet.

In a world that is filled with noise, from physical noise such as cars, phones, household goods, televisions, radios and chatter, to the mental noise of our brain – the lists and thoughts running through our head on a minute by minute basis I often feel the need to seek out some quiet.  I need to escape the hubbub of the day, switch off the thoughts I have and just escape to a place of solace where I can just exist for a while and become an observer of all that noise.

Sometimes, I like to sit and read in the quiet of my room, with no tv or music in the background, just the peaceful silence, other times I take a bath and lie fully immersed in the water just listening to my breath and heart creating their own musical pattern, and other times I like to sit and meditate, using Mindfulness and it’s teachings to help me observe the things I can’t change.

I have been on a few different mindfulness courses over the years and have found these lessons to be really helpful when we are surrounded with noise, both internally and externally, it can help you to focus on the moment, lets you check in with yourself and how you are feeling and raises an awareness of things that you may not have noticed before.

There are lots of ways to practice mindfulness, from breathing exercises to full on meditation sessions.  My favorite is the Calm App which lets you practice different mindful skills and is a really good guide when starting out.  I really like the Breathe section which helps you to focus on your breath.  This always helps to centre me and bring me back to the present moment.  I like to use this exercise when I am in work and need a few minutes to myself.

I think that having Quiet in our lives is even more important now than it ever has been and whether you choose mindfulness or any other way to have quiet moments, it is worth building this into your day-to-day routine.

How do you incorporate quiet into your life?

P is for Planning a Crafternoon

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You can find information about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge here or read the rest of my A to Z posts by following this link.

I held my first Crafternoon to raise money for Mind back in December and have decided to host another one for Mind in July.  As today’s Blogging From A to Z Challenge letter is P I thought I would share with you how I plan for this event.

Where to hold the event.

I would love to host a large Crafternoon event and invite all my friends and family but it can be difficult to find a venue with parking that is easy to get to and that is cheap which is why I held my last event at home.  I will be doing the same for this event.

Guest list.

The size of your venue will determine how many people you can invite.  I can comfortably have around 8 people in my home so my guest list will be small.  Last Crafternoon I invited my close friends that I knew would enjoy the crafting aspect of the event but, even if no actual crafting takes place then getting a group of friends together who all have fun is always a good thing!

Invitations.

I bought invites from Amazon for my last event.  I chose these as they were art and craft themed but any invites would work.  You could set up an event on Facebook and invite your friends or send texts or emails to the people you want to attend, just remember to let them know the date and time, where the event will be and ask that they let you know if they can come or not.

Activities.

I like to have a few different activities that people can try out that are not too hard to master.  At my last event, as it was in December, I chose a Christmas theme and chose to make paper decorations.  My friend also provided an activity where we were shown how to decorate our own pocket mirrors and phone cases which my guests loved.  I have not chosen a theme for this event yet, though no theme is really necessary.  I am thinking of an activity involving scrapbooking and making cards.  My neighbour has also offered to show us how to make some jewellery which should go down well!

Activity Area.

It is worth setting up a designated area for your guests to do their crafting.  I set up my dining table with craft supplies and tools that we would need for the event and all my guests gathered around the table to do their crafting.  I had a separate area set up on my coffee table for another of the activities.

Food and Drink.

My friend, who is an excellent cake maker, made some cakes and brownies for the event and I also made a cake.  I provided tea, coffee and squash and asked my guests to bring a bottle of their choice to have if they wanted.  Most of my guests bought a bottle of wine each and we all sat and had a few glasses while crafting which was really lovely.  This time I am thinking of doing a few nibbles, things like crisps, peanuts, and other party food depending on how many people want to come.  It isn’t necessary to provide food but I thought it would add to the event atmosphere.

What sort of things would you add to plans for an event like this?  Let me know in the comments!!!

O is for Outfit of the Day

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You can find information about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge here or read the rest of my A to Z posts by following this link.

It’s starting to get warmer and that means that I can start to break out my summer clothes finally!  And with today’s Blogging from A – Z post being the letter O I thought that there would be no better opportunity than to share with you my Outfit of the Day!

I work in an office that is open plan and can either be really chilly or can be pretty hot depending on what the heating decides to do that day so layering is a must for days when I am in work.  And, even though the weather is starting to get warmer, there are times when the day is still pretty cold with a breeze that feels sub-zero in the mornings but by the afternoon can be fairly warm and pleasant.  Today’s outfit is perfect for the weather we are currently having.

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I love mixing summer dresses with items that are meant for cooler weather and today I have picked my favorite summer dress, a lovely tie dye strappy piece, which in summer I wear with bare legs and shoulders.  Today I am teaming it with tights, a t-shirt from Primark, a long cardigan from Asda and my favorite, sparkly sandals (which are jelly shoes!).

I love this outfit, it is bright and fun but comfortable at the same time and pared with my black cardi isn’t ‘over-the-top’ bright for work.  I am a huge fan of open cardigans too, they are the perfect item to layer and add to many outfits.  I like to wear mine over shirts and leggings, jeans and t-shirts, dresses, cute skirts and tops, the list is pretty much endless!

I bought my dress at a festival several years ago and wear it each and every year.  I have worn it with a turtle neck top underneath and thick tights and boots in the winter, and can transition it to summer wear by adding either a long sleeve top, t-shirt, vest top or nothing underneath it.  It works really well with several different cardis over the top too, from my chunky arran knit cardi to a pale pink chunky knit cardi that I own.  I love the colours of it as I can mix it with pinks, blues, purples and black and it still looks lovely.  I can dress it up or down depending on where I am going too!  It really is the perfect dress for me!

I got my jelly shoes in a charity shop last year.  They were brand new with the tags still on and cost me £2.00 which I thought was a complete bargain!  I love how comfortable they are and I have worn them with black skinny jeans and socks, shorts and dresses.  They look really nice with bare feet or with socks.

What are you wearing today?  Let me know in the comments!

N is for Netflix

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You can find information about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge here or read the rest of my A to Z posts by following this link.

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Todays post is bought to you by the letter N and the topic Netflix!

I don’t really watch tv, I haven’t seemed to even switch the box on for such a long time so when I got an offer sent through to my inbox for a 30 day free trial of Netflix I didn’t really see the point in signing up for it.  This was 4 months ago and I now subscribe to the service monthly.  So, “what changed?” I can hear you all ask… well, one evening I didn’t really have anything to do and fancied sitting and watching something, anything and couldn’t find anything that I fancied watching on “normal” telly so I had a look on-line at what I could find on Netflix, saw that they still had Gilmore Girls on there (which I had watched parts of previously) and decided that I would use my free trial to watch the show from the beginning, then the plan was to cancel.

I watched the whole of Gilmore Girls (all 7 Series, 153 episodes) and then I saw that they had an extr a seriesfor the Gilmore Girls called A Year in the Life.  By this point I was nearing the end of my free trial so decided to stick with it and finish watching this show.

In work one day I overheard someone talking about The Umbrella Academy (on Netflix) so I then thought I’d watch the first episode to see what it was like… I was hooked and have since completed the first series and am anxiously awaiting the next series.

And now I have watched the following…

  • Pretty Little Liars
  • Orphan Black
  • Black Mirror
  • Consumed
  • Girlboss

And I have a to watch list that keeps on growing steadily….

What series have you watched on Netflix?  Do you have any suggestions of things I can add to my list of things to watch?