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2016.  What a messed up year.  We lost so many greats- Bowie, Wood, even Wogan.  It was also the year of Brexit and all that came with that, oh and of course not to mention Trump.

On a personal level 2016 was the year of heartbreak, frustration, and incredibly poor timing. Even Brad and Angelina didn’t make it…

The year started out happy, promising and with a man I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with.  Somehow along the way that all turned to shit and I went from practically killing myself on a horse to one of the worst years as a family since Mum died.

I remember last year writing a post about how I wasn’t going to make any new year’s resolutions and I’m kinda glad I did- failing at impossible goals was the last thing I needed in 2016.  Let’s face it- we all promise ourselves in December that next year will be ‘our year’, we’ll climb a mountain, or live entirely off green vegetables.  Nothing like the cold reality of disappointment when you realise it’s not your year, you can’t even climb the stairs without tripping up, and McDonalds know you so well they offer your ‘usual’ as soon as you walk in…

Of course we all go into a new year with the best intentions but if I’m totally honest 2016 for me, and many of my chums, was a pretty turbulent year filled with inopportune events. This included my horrendous riding accident in February, the day before I was going on a course I’d been waiting AGES to get a place on, work frustrations and just generally terribly poor timing on a number of things.  I even found an amazing personal trainer and after only a few sessions she told me she’s off to a new job.  Sucks.  To be fair we’ll stay mates but she’s a bloody beast in the gym and I’m going to miss her and that peachy butt sooo much!

This year I think the only resolution I want to make (and it’s not really a resolution) is to continue exercising as much as I can.  Exercise is an escape. It provides time to get lost in your thoughts, or just lose your thoughts to pushing yourself, and you feel so good afterwards it’s a no brainer for me.   I think to be honest this is more a continuation of a lifestyle than a resolution and if you look at something like that it’s not something you’ll easily break.

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Gemma to the power of two = double trouble…

Anyone that knows me knows that I like to be in another country for New Year’s Eve, and this year is no exception.  I’m dashing off for Christmas too this time- today I’m flying to Australia for almost four weeks armed with a year’s supply of freelance savings, a couple of new bikinis and my oldest friend in the world.

I’ve known Gemma since she was born (just under a year after me) and her Mum was BFF’s with mine. We grew up together and had the cutest childhood.  I think one of the reasons we’re such close friends is we’ve got that much dirt on each other it would be lethal not to stay that way!  This girl has been through SO much this year and come out stronger and happier than ever and I’m so proud of her and everything she does.  I am privileged to have so many good friends in my life- they are, after all, the family we choose.  She’s more of a sister to me, and what this girl doesn’t know about me isn’t worth knowing.  This year we’ve got each other through what we now refer to as  ‘Black Sunday’, ‘dark August’ and all the other utter rubbish times this year- from not being able to walk, to ALL the boy dramas, and from work issues to family chaos.

You know when you have that friend that you don’t even need to say anything to and you know exactly what the other person is thinking.  This is Gemma.  We just get each other.

 

Heartbreak was everywhere this year.  Couples that I literally thought would be together for the long haul seemed to fall apart left, right and centre.  I started the year with a man I genuinely thought I’d be with until I was grey and seriously wrinkly; it’s crazy how so much can change.  Not just within a year but within a matter of hours!  Maybe my Disney- fuelled childhood provided me with unrealistic expectations of love and romance, and a fairy tale ending is purely that- fictional.  Gin and Prosecco profits will definitely be on the rise thanks to me and my pals…

To anyone I hurt or upset in 2016 I am truly sorry.  To anyone who hurt me- I hope you are too.  What a fucking roller coaster.

It’s not just been a year of heartbreak in terms of relationships but also in terms of my family situation too.  It’s so bloody fragile and it rips me to pieces on a daily basis.  I think when things are good in a family you take it for granted.  I would do anything to have my normal family life back but right now that seems like a distant dream, maybe an impossible reality.  I literally cannot wait to get away from it all and discover new places I’ve never been and run straight into the sea.  It’s a big world out there- adventure is waiting…

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    ‘All I’m after is a lifetime of laughter’  

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year it’s that you have to surround yourself with people that lift you up.  Equally you have to lift your friends up too.  I’ve been pretty slack with a couple of friends this year and that’s something that definitely needs to change.  It’s ok to expect your friends to be there when you’re down but I also need them to know they can rely on me too.  It’s so important.

In a year when hate and anger won votes and elections it’s easy to focus on the negative but there’s actually a whole heap of things to be positive about and I have so much to be grateful for!

I just want to smile my way through 2017. Laughing is my favourite things in the world and if you are surrounded by people that can make you laugh so hard it hurts, well then life is just SO much more enjoyable.

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My beautiful BFF Becky and I at the festival of dreams…

So here’s to 2017- let’s hope it’s better for all involved! You never know who you’ll meet on that spur-of-the-moment night out, or what’s waiting for you just around the corner, and don’t forget- Prince Charming comes in many different guises…Exciting times indeed!

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog, supported me and helped in any little way.  I love you all and I wish you all a Merry messy Christmas and a Bonza New Year!  I’ll see you on the other side.  Now where’s my passport…

 

Jem xx

 

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Having a blog can be really fun at Christmas- all the gift guides, new products, festive posts and excitingly this year the East Midlands Bloggers Christmas Calendar Swap.

If you live in the East Midlands and you blog/create/write then you really should be a part of East Midlands Bloggers.  You can join in on Facebook here.

This year I took part in Jay and Jess’s Christmas Calendar Swap where you’re paired with another blogger from your region and create an advent box to send them full of little gifts to open in December.   It’s such a fun idea- the box had to include 25 presents with everything costing between £15-£30 in total and everything had to fit inside a shoe box.

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I was paired up with the lovely Kirsty from Derby.  You can check out her lifestyle, beauty and books blog here.

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At first I thought it would be easy but it’s actually quite a challenge to find 25 different gifts.  I read up on Kirsty’s blog to find out a bit more about her and then cracked on with the fun part- shopping.  I have a feeling we’ve probably bought each other similar things, as we’re both very much into our products and cute things! It was good fun hunting around lots of different shops to find enough items for the box, and I wanted to make sure there was plenty of variety in there too.  From a colouring book to beauty products, chocolate treats to stationary.   The swap is also a great way to get to know another bloggers in your area and it’s always nice to discover new blogs and posts to read.  Everyone in the East Midlands Group is super supportive and there’s always social events and topics of discussion on their Facebook page.  It’s a great way to meet other likeminded bloggers and connect with people with similar interests as you.

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I was so excited when mine arrived and it’s been fun every day having a little present to open.  I’m going on holiday next week so I might have to save the rest until I come back- surely it’s bad luck to open them all before I go.  Tempting though…

Can’t believe it’s only two weekends until Christmas!  Happy shopping…

Jem xx

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I’m just going to put this out there from the start.  I think this is my favourite festival out of any I’ve been to!  Now I bloody loved Glasto but if you’re after the bizarre, the beautiful, and four days of pure bohemian magic then this is the one.  How can you not fall in love with a festival where you can swim in a lake, rave in a forest and make a birdfeeder all on the same day?!

Wilderness not only boasts an entire spa and wellness sanctuary, a country estate set in 400 acres of private parkland, and more sequinned leotards than you’ll ever see at Gay Pride but the food is also some of the best you’ll ever find.  So when my gorgeous friend Becky (aka TalkBeckyTalk) asked me if I was free and fancied going I was literally packed and in the car before she could change her mind!

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Now if you’re music knowledge is far from au fait then fret not as I’d definitely say the bands take second stage to all the other amazing activities you can do at Wilderness.  Fancy sunrise yoga or some bizarre team sports games?  Want to try archery or make your own wedding ring?  How about a Gong bath followed by a five course dinner in a banquet hall? This festival has it ALL covered.  You could actually go there and come back healthier and fitter than when you arrived, alas this wasn’t the case for me as we arrived armed with Gin and the determination to have a right royal party in the champagne tent.

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Now I wouldn’t say this is a purse friendly festival- there are way too many tempting ways to empty your wallet, and annoyingly as we found out as first timers, a lot of the activities need to be pre booked.  However there are so many free things on offer too- group yoga, meditation, interactive theatre, talks and debates, free craft sessions, hiphop karaoke, and an insane amount of free silliness to watch or take part in around the central Atrium area of the festival.  We spent many an hour soaking up the glorious Oxfordshire sunshine people watching too- there’s just SO much to feast your eyes on.  Half naked women with banging bodies left right and centre, amazing circus performers, not to mention the incredible outfits that make even Cher’s wardrobe look like she shops at Bon Marche.

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We stayed in a little wooden hut, which was super cosy (meaning FRIKIN roasting in the mornings) which had power to charge my camera batteries.  Bring your own fairy lights and bunting though or you’ll feel left out!  The beds were SO comfy but there’s very little room inside- just enough for me, my BFF and a weekends supply of Gin.  There are so many options for camping- from the absolute basic two man tent to practically a palace of dreams.  Ranging from gypsy style caravans, tepees, to little hobbit-style huts. You never know who you’ll bump into either, we were staying next to my blogging hero and right lovely lass EmTalks. What a gorgeous girlie, inside and out!

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I can’t reiterate how much there is to see and do, and every day has a theme so get your feathers and your glue gun ready before you head off.  All the stalls are epic too.  One of my favourite was the Naked Juice stand- where you entered through a magical floral awning into a hide away filled with fruit, creative activities and the BEST hangover cure ever- free juice!  I’m a massive fan of their Green Machine so this was the order of the day on several occasions….

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We took a boat out on the lake on the Saturday (which is a free activity) and enjoyed a glass of fizz in the sanctuary spa hot tub.  You have to pre book the spa but you get two amazing hours to enjoy the postcard-perfect surroundings from a wood-fired hot tub.  We were so lucky with the weather- gorgeous hot sunshine, not a cloud in the sky- the very best of the British summer so far.  It was even warm enough to swim in the lake!  After dark it’s time to hit up the food tents.  You can dine in style or enjoy any of the offerings from the food stalls.  Hix was our choice of the weekend and we even met the chef himself- a rather merry Mark Hix makes for an interesting meal!  The Valleys is the ONLY place to party into the wee hours and some dirty house was just the tonic after hours soaking up the cloudless skies at the folk stage, not forgetting Robert Plant- who totally rocked! There’s definitely something special about raving in a laser-lit woodland filled with balloons with thousands of glitter-clad people smiling back at you, all feeling the same vibe.

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If you want to escape the norm, wear an animal mask and don a pair of golden sequinned leggings then this is the festival for you.  So next year grab your best friend and head over to Cornbury Park.  Sometimes beautiful escapism is all we need for a few days, especially in a world that seems so ugly right now.

 

Check out Becky’s Youtube channel here and her Instagram here

To find out more about Wilderness festival click here.

Until next time,

J xx