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The Journal: A Love Letter to Leeds

Oh Leeds, you little beauty.

The move to Leeds city centre was always going to be an emotional one. My life had been turned upside down pretty much overnight, and after an emotional Christmas and New Year (think Bridget Jones 1), I was ready for my new start and you were raring to go, palms outstretched wide. You wanted to pull me in and show me your messy underbelly, your gleaming lights, your stretches of green and sunshine.

Our first few months together were a whirlwind of drunken nights with the girls, intense days (and often nights) of work, bizarre dates, sweaty gym sessions and many moments of solitude. We had some of the best times I've ever had. You were the one place where I began to understand who I really was and what I wanted but the following things I'll always remember you for...

Thank you Leeds, for giving me my two best friends and a background to create way too memories. I'd known the girls before I'd settled, but Leeds became the hive in which we created our mischief and the backdrop to countless 'God I love you two' moments.

Thank you Leeds, for giving me the perfect place for me to get my body,  fitness and mental stability back. Primal was unlike any gym I had ever been to and has given me a thirst and love for training that I doubt will ever leave me.

Thank you Leeds, for giving me the opportunity to meet the man I deserve. I'd never have matched with him had it not been for a local rugby match and my sweet little place in the centre. Now I'm shipping up and out to continue my journey with him, and that is one hell of an exciting change.

Yet most importantly of all, thank you for making me realise that regardless of what challenges are put in my way, and no matter how dark and unclear the future may seem, I'm strong enough to take things head on.

For that, dearest Leeds, I'll come back to see you again!

The Journal: Long Distance Relationships

Long distance relationships get a bit of a hard time. Yes, those days when the sun is out and you fancy a spontaneous beer in the sunshine with the one you love are impossible, and yes, you do miss them like mad but there's some really great things about being in an LDR...

Solitude is actually fine

I'm quite an independent person anyway, but I think it's great that in the early days when all you want to do is see the other person non-stop, you're forced to spend some time on your own. It sets a precedence that you still need your own time and need to keep doing things that make you, you.

Communication gets more meaningful

Did I think I'd end up having a nightly conversation for two hours in which I cover off everything I've eaten in one day? No. Did I expect to find someone where a FaceTime at the end of the day was our only way of seeing each other? No. Yet there's something in speaking face to face for hours each day that makes me thankful for the distance - you put the effort in and get to know each other really well, in a short space of time.

Time together feels like a luxury

It's easy to fall into a trap of doing amazing things every time you are together but we've always tried to keep things relatively normal. Note: hella lot of Netflix and the occasional takeaway. The distance means we're happy doing the most mundane things - just because we're doing them together. I love it that you really appreciate each other.

Little things matter

A little card hidden away in your bag when you unpack when you get home, or a surprise letter or present mid-week are a little 'hello I'm thinking about you' that you crave so much when the one you want is miles away.  It's the old fashioned way but gets missed so often in today's world of smartphones and screens.

You start to read each other really well

There's nothing worse than living miles away and just wanting some time with the person you care about after a bad day. I've found we've got to know each other's facial expressions and moods well in a short space of time - it's a way of feeling connected and supported despite the lack of physical presence I guess.

It's safe to say living apart from Col hasn't been the easiest and it's definitely had it's bumps in the road - but as we move to the next stage of our relationship, I definitely feel grateful that things weren't so easy to start with. The distance has made me certain that I'm doing the right thing, and has made sure that I've not lost out on all the hard work creating an independent life for my self.

LDR, you rock.

The Journal: In Defence of Kids Getting Older

These two piglets are still toddlers in my mind. I've not quite accepted that one of them is on his path to deciding his GCSE and A-Levels, and the other has one year of primary school left. It's all a bit mind boggling.

However, there's definitely a lot to be said for kids getting older. I wanted Matthew and Adam to stay tiny forever. Whether they were little squishy bundles of dependent babyness, or cheeky toothless toddlers bobbling around the garden, I wasn't fussy. The thought of them being rational miniature men with their own agendas and dreams was terrifying.

Now we're further down the line, I love it. Matthew is on my wavelength much more than he ever was before. I love his trusting nature and his ability to be completely weird. His dopeyness and clumsiness that's hit him in the last year or so as he grows ever upwards (seriously, no signs of stopping as yet). I love the way he tries his best at everything, and deep down is fiercely protective of mum and I, always keen to look after us. I just know he's going to be the kind of man we'll be proud of.

Adam is still young, the baby of the family, but he amazes me everyday too. His memory is insane, I can't keep up with his ability to remember a multitude of facts and bits of information. I love his boldness and uncompromising sense of self. He knows who he is and demands to be known, he owns his presence and when he walks into a room I know that heads will always turn towards him. He has drive, and I know as he gets older he's only going to get more ambitious, more rounded. He's going to do something amazing one day, and it's so exciting being able to share that journey with him.

So, I stand corrected. Whilst the chubby cheeks and Michelin man leg days are great, so are these days. If anything, these are the days that are really special - these are the days that we'll both remember and that we both get to share.

The Style Files: Hello Autumn

I know, I know. The flowers have barely started to wilt and I'm already jumping on the Autumn bandwagon... but it is the best season. Slightly cooler days, the crisp air in the mornings and the completely gorgeous orangey-red leaves falling from the trees. I'm hooked.

Not only does Autumn get me craving hot mugs of tea (although that's definitely not a seasonal addiction) and long walks - the wardrobe changes get my heart beating a lot quicker too. Correct me if i'm wrong, but there's just something about Summer clothing that makes me feel a bit claustrophobic. I spend half of summer feeling like sausage meat squeezed into a skin that's slightly too tight...

Anyway, on that note, here's my inspiration (sources linked on Pinterest link below) as we head into beautiful, beautiful autumn...

Feeling inspired? Head over to my A/W board on Pinterest here for more!

The Journal: Corsica Photo Diary

I'd never heard of Corsica either. My parents wanted us to join them on the family holiday but as there was so many of us working in the group, it was proving challenging to find somewhere until a month or so before we were due to go away, the text from dad arrived. Corsica was our destination, and we were staying in a villa in the mountains of Saint Florent!

Although mum and dad kept most of the holiday a surprise, initial research of the destination didn't disappoint. I was expecting domineering mountains speckled with green, crystal blue seas and white sandy beaches. I was sold.

I'll let the pictures do the talking, but it's safe to say we had the best time. It was the perfect destination for lazy days reading in the sunshine, warm evenings for family barbecues, and has just enough to keep us entertained when we went for a stroll in the baking heat. See the bottom of this post for a couple of recommendations.

Le Petit Caporal - my parents ate here one night and we ate here on our last night. Would definitely recommend - the cocktails are great, the food is delicious and the service was top.

Plage Du Lotu - is the white sandy beach you can see on some of the pictures. It was beautiful there, you can access the beach via a 15 minute boat trip and it's not too expensive depending on what time of year you go.

Plage de Saleccia - is meant to be one of the nicest beaches on the Island but is pretty pricey to get there via boat, and you have to book at week in advance at least (which we sadly found out!)