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Between Lenses: Reflection



I cannot believe this month's Between Lenses is the last of 2014 (although, don't you worry, it does not mean the end - Trina and Tara are, thankfully, continuing the tradition into 2015!). Although I have only taken part a handful of times, I have been following along since the collaboration began in January, and it has been an absolute joy to watch the series develop, and to have my images sit alongside those produced by the talented hands of both ladies (and, of course, by all of the bloggers who have taken part each month!).

Now to December's image, and I couldn't think of anything more fitting than a festively-themed submission!


A little reflection

This month's theme - reflection - called upon me to do a little of my own in the way of looking back across 2014 and reminiscing about what it meant to me. I will always look back on it fondly, as it was the year in which I formed many'a friendship that I now could not imagine myself being without, and because it was the year in which I became a part of this community.

Although I still feel as though I'm living in limbo-land where my tales are concerned (with thoughts for what I should do come the new year forever plaguing me), I'm so grateful to be here, sharing with you, and to be on the receiving end of the support offered every time I post. Revamping Tori's Tales back in March meant posting in a way that felt much more me - far more authentic of voice - and to have you all respond to the 'real me' so positively means the whole bloody great big world to me.

I always felt like the odd one out growing up, so it goes to show just how much investing in an online community can bring, because I now very much feel as though I 'fit in'. I know online friendships are often met with confused looks (and feelings) when discussed with those in the 'outside world', but I've never known acceptance or support like that which I've encountered through blogging and social media. I get to speak to the best friends a gal - in fact, anyone! - could ever ask for, every day, and - really - what could be better than that?


Top | Left - Warmth, Right - Silence

Bottom | Left - Mornings, Right - Urban

Here's to Trina and Tara for their amazing collaboration. Thank you both for offering us the opportunity to take part, and here's to the 2015 editions!

Motorhome life: Bamburgh, Northumberland



Bamburgh, Northumberland 

We became enamoured with the North - and in particular Northumberland - last year, when we whizzed through on our way up to Scotland in our buddy Eric. A mixture of stunning landscapes, beautiful buildings packed-full of history, and charming coastlines, the area quite literally (thanks to those coastal ‘breezes’) took our breath away.

No spot more so, however, than Bamburgh - a dainty coastal village dominated by it’s (I still can’t work out which century it’s from, though I'm going with 11th) Castle, situated among grassy sand dunes, and overlooking a stretched-out-for-miles beach


Campsite, views, and walks 

Although last year we had pride-of-parking-place on a tarmacked spot opposite the castle (what a sunrise that was to awake to), this time around – which was, in fact, back in October; how that time flew by - we chose not to 'wing it' but, instead, to plonk ourselves in a campsite. Yes, we have Eric, but his facilities aren't in the tip-toppiest of conditions – save a working stove top, comfy-ish bed, and his well-used/well-worn sofas - so I’m always on the hunt for shower facilities and a toilet I don’t have to empty myself! 

Fowberry Farm turned out to be the most perfect of choices. Nestled almost halfway between Bamburgh and Seahouses, it offered us a fantastic base from which to launch ourselves on walks, and the surrounding fields - through which our path to the villages lay (full of sheep - above -we were spooked by come Saturday morning, because we’d gone for a walk in the pitch-black night on Friday and had no clue they were there!) - offered us views almost unrivalled by any other campsite we've visited.. 


Beach walks, Bamburgh, and Seahouses

A lazy few hours Saturday morning were spent reading, and willing the clouds to part, before we headed out and across to Bamburgh, clad in layers of please-keep-us-warm clothing, and please-keep-us-dry macs. Battling the slanting rain, we crossed through the dunes and out onto the sand, and spent time slicing through (with tremendous force) the bitter-with-salty-tears air, witnessed only by a few brave-as-us couples, and their soggy-to-the-bone dogs.


A loop back around to Eric - met by what I took to be a shaggy-coat-wearing greyhound, but which I've since worked out must have been a deerhound, one of many we saw that weekend - and a pit-stop for lunch, our full-bellied selves were met with brighter skies for the let's-stomp-to-Seahouses portion of our day out. A mini-golf-and-campsite-clad seaside town, the place heaved with tourists and pub-heading locals, and was strewn with search-for-chips seagulls, taunted by vinegar-soaked air.

An hour long (and then some) walk back across the beach created parched throats, eased only by a rest and a drink in a hotel bar, before the need to head back, eat some more, and slumber overtook us. 



Sunday met with a swift pack-up-for-home, and a short journey around to the castle for photos . The morning sun lit our path, providing some much needed warmth for our early-hours let's-soak-up-the-sea-air-for-the-last-time walk, before Alnwick found itself with us terrible-trio for company. Barter Books came a'calling, before we zipped across for a river walk alongside the Castle (of Hogwarts, and soon-to-be Christmas Downton Abbey, fame), it's beauty set-off by the blue-and-green scenery. 


Off to the motorway, and the Angel of the North we then zoomed (to marvel at, alongside icecream-eating pensioners), before tackling the 200-odd miles back down to the Midlands, with fuller hearts and lighter heads.

Our mission was simple – to spend time just being. To enjoy the coastal walks, the gorgeous views, and each other’s company. All of which we managed to pull off quite marvellously. 

A Tour Through Blogland


I don’t think Sarah’s invitation – to be a part of the series ‘A Tour Through Blogland – could have come at a better time, allowing me to open up and update you on what has been happening. The idea is that, through the answering of 4 questions, you – my wonderful readers, and supportive community members – get to know a little more about what I'm up to, and the process behind these here tales. One then is encouraged to extend a hand to a fellow blogger(s), to have them do the same - find out who I invited to take part after my chat! 

What are you working on?

  • Content

I’m working – slowly, but fairly surely - on progressing. Though not quite enough time has passed by that any lack of presence is obvious, I have been pulling away from this space 'physically' lately, although mentally I detached myself quite some time ago. There has been something about ‘here’ – if I’m to be honest with you (and why wouldn't I be?) – that doesn't fit right with me. The feelings of unease arose originally from my worries about the design - and my lack of creative ability to makes changes - but has slowly moved towards the content I create, the need to take a next step, and the want to offer something a little 'more'. 

Though I haven’t yet put my finger on why, discussions (and wonderful advice from Trina, Holly, and Tara) have lead me to realise that, for me to progress (and I have, thankfully, decided that is something I want to do), I need to find a purpose for this space. Questions about what I 'add' to the lives (or, rather, the experience) of those who visit here have danced centre-stage in my thoughts of late, and the problem has been that I'm not sure I'm able to answer that question, much as I’ve tried.

My aim, then (alongside creating content you already see here), is to branch out (to think outside this little box-head of mine), and to do my best to offer you all something new and exciting; the meaningful every day. I want to share more of me - not just images (like the above - hellooo!) - but also my thoughts and feelings. Opinions even (yes, I used the 'o' word!). After reading a fantastically-raw and honesty-filled email from Molly last night - the newsletter for Cora, the company Molly is the founder of, whose mission I wrote about back in June - and the words of Shannon (that I head over to read every. bloody. day - that's how marvellous she is), I have realised how important it is for me to not feel frightened to be open. We all have voices that deserve to be heard, and I'm going to work towards lifting whatever it is that I've felt stifled by for so long. 

  • Life

The new year will bring with it my last 6 months at university, and a massive step towards my future life, with a move to a new city (either Sheffield or Manchester) planned for late summer, to coincide with my boy starting his postgraduate degree (which is jolly weird to say when we've yet to graduate as undergrads!). My wish is that I will be proactive in my search for what my own future will hold, and so I will be holding myself accountable for the decisions I make in 2015 by documenting my journey here. I have a slightly different story to tell than those of your average undergrad, as a 29 year old who very much has disliked her university experience (gotta be honest, haven't I?!), with no real plans for where I'm going, or what I want to do. I'm hoping that, in recording each step of the way, I'll be more present in my experience, and benefit more greatly from it. 

I’ve also been toying with the idea – and it’s something I discussed with Rosie and Amy via twitter, both of whom thought it sounded like a good un’ – of creating an online group to help others do the same; my idea is that (I can't take all the credit - that goes to this episode of Jess' podcast) those who become involved will set themselves goals for the month and in return will be assigned a partner who will help them achieve them, through encouragement and support. I haven’t thought out all the nitty gritty details yet, but I'm feeling jazzed about the idea - pop a comment below if it sounds like something you'd be interested in taking part in! 

  • Design

I’m also still working on a new design for this space. As I’ve mentioned, a lot of the problems I’ve had with posting here (especially new ideas I've had, i.e. those on introducing a series) is that I've been loathe to do so when it doesn't look as I want it to. Though I know my effort isn't ‘wasted’ as such, whilst I'm not happy with the way it looks I just can’t take the next steps I want to, content-wise. Because of this, I am determined to brush up on my (almost non-existent) html and css skills, and take a step towards creating my own designed-by-these-very-hands website. *Aside - any tips or tricks you fancy sharing would be most welcomed!*. It's been on my mind for a while but, ever-the-pessimist, I've told myself time and time again that I just can't do it. I'm hoping that I will prove that little voice inside my head wrong, and have something to show off at some point over the next few months!   

How does your work differ from others in its' genre?

Although I can’t profess to be anything special (I share this wonderful world wide web with hundreds of thousands upon thousands of other blogs), nor will I make the move to suggest that my blog slots into a particular genre (maybe a sub-genre, one I like to call a ‘my life’), the one thing I can be sure of is that what makes this space different is that it’s written by me about random happenings and thoughts from – you’ve guessed it – my life. Though I’m working on tidying things up a little come the new year, I find it hard to ‘categorise’ what I offer, because it’s all just a jumbled-up creation of my thoughts, words on days out, a collaboration here and there, and introductions to my local area...check back through my most recent posts and you’ll find one on Nottingham’s Christmas market, my Between Lenses entry (a beautiful photography-based collaboration set up by Trina and Tara), a ‘recollectionof my day, and highlights from a trip to a local market. There is no rhyme or reason, nor any real pattern to what I do, and that just is exactly what makes it different – no one else shares my perspective, nor does anyone else live the life I do, and that’s this space’s quirk; the me.

Why do you write/create what you do?

I always find ‘why’ questions the hardest kind to answer, as I lean towards a childlike (paired with a shrug) ‘because’. There isn’t just one ‘you’ve-hit-the-nail-on-the-head-there-son’ reason for why I do what I do, though the feelings behind my doing so fall in line with those of wanting and needing to. The latter, mainly, because it affords me an opportunity to be creative, and the former because there’s just something about the act of writing that nothing else I do matches – a want to give to others, to share with a community, and to document for the future me.

How does your writing/creative process work?

I’m baffled that it ever does! I'm more of a 'fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants' gal than I am a ‘let’s get all my posts typed up for the week and schedule them’ one (though I wish I were more like the latter!). As I mentioned above, I am gunning for better organisation in the new year, however, right now I tend towards writing and publishing on the same day. I use Google calendar, and ‘plan’ post titles ahead of time, but I often end up chopping and changing what it is I go with on the day. I'm still working on building a library of images - à la Miranti's - I can dip into, because often I find myself without a photo to fit to my words (however loosely), and that can delay my hitting ‘publish’, but – again – this is something I might have to postpone doing until 2015, when I hope to (somehow!) save up enough to buy myself a (second-hand – student budget woes will always get in one’s way!) camera. Other than that, the actual process involves sitting at the table, (and occasionally staring out of the window), lots of editing (sometimes deleting and re-writing), and re-reading until the bloody cows come home.....the perfectionist in me has got me scrutinising every single word to the point where I have to hit 'publish' just to stop myself from going crazy! 

My darling friend Georgia's blog 'Brew Up Buttercup' will be the next door arrived at on this whistle-stop tour through blogland. Hop on over this coming Sunday to see what she has to say! 

Brew up Buttercup


Nottingham's Winter Wonderland



Christmas cheer

There's nothing quite like the so-thick-with-anticipation-you-can-cut-it-with-a-knife buzz that this time of year radiates. Comparable only to the joy that packs the air in the happiest place on earth (because, trust me, you can't walk around a Disney park without flashing a mega-watt smile with every pace - it's infectious), Christmas puts a spring in the step of everyone (I might be stretching it - let's go with a huge proportion of the people) it touches. 

Winter Wonderland

From around mid-November, Nottingham's Old Market Square comes alive with groups of people helping to put together the city's Christmas market; a flurry of activity busies itself around the base of a - pretty humongous - Christmas tree, which is later strung with baubles, only matched (and then some) in size by the glitzily-gaudy numbers that find themselves dotted around the wooden huts that arrive emblazoned with words like 'Fresh Chips' and 'Mushy Peas' (we've got our priorities right). Then up pops the Helter Skelter, it's flag waving merrily in the autumn air, filling passer-by's thoughts with 'it's nearly here'-ness, before work is started on the 30m ice-skating rink home to terrific-twirls, swirling-slides, and flat-on-your-face-falls aplenty (the latter of which I'm adept at) - and the bright-as-they-come Carousel, replete with plinky-plonky music, nestles into it's spot, towered over by the Christmas-decoration-adorned façade of the Council House


Deck the halls

After making my way over to, and through, Bird in Borrowed Feathers Winter Market which I'll fill you in on soon - I wasn't quite ready to take the trip back across town to an empty apartment (let me point out I'm making this sound far-lengthier than it actually is - more like a 5 minute walk), so I thought I'd wander slowly through the Christmas-crowds (I was surprised by how busy it was for a Sunday, especially as it was near-on 4pm; see what I mean about Christmas? It brings out the people!) to have a gander at what was on offer.  

However, I got a little more than caught-up in the Yuletide atmosphere, and - instead of browsing the stalls - spent the majority of the time I was there happily snapping away at the sights, getting only glimpses here-and-there of the wares for sale. Thus another visit will be paid this week, when I fancy a break away from the screen (it's time to start another essay over at Tori's Tales HQ!), and am keen to indulge in some festive-frolicking

Have you visited a Christmas market this year?

Between Lenses - Urban



The new month afforded me another opportunity to collaborate with two of my favourites - Trina, from Of Trees and Hues, and Tara, from Tara Victoria (who has a brand new design - be sure to check it out!) for the 11th edition of their beautiful Between Lenses series. 


I have shared views from my window fairly regularly, both here (in fact, you'll see two featured in the post prior to this one!), and elsewhere on the webs, and one of the reasons for doing so (besides the fact I think it’s a pretty darn-awesome view!) is that it’s just so different to that which I grew up with (and witnessed changing over the near-on 25 years I called it my own). Back home - a village outside of Winchester - the view I woke to every day featured a green-green garden, a conservatory roof (situated just below my window which, for those of you who love to fall asleep, or wake up to, the pitter-patter of rain (and then some) would adore, but for light sleepers like me, downpours proved a little trying! – a swimming pool (which is now no longer there), a workshop, a patio, and trees, trees, and more trees.

When Trina and Tara announced this month’s Between Lenses theme was to be ‘Urban’, I did my best to think outside the box – to come up with something original, unusual, maybe even a little gritty, but ideas escaped me (even after wandering around town, camera in hand). It wasn't until the sun came up this morning (after which rain soon followed) that I realised I could actually stay within my box (quite literally - the 4 walls of this apartment) and capture the view that I now wake to. These roofs, the pipes, the old factory buildings, the ambulance sirens, the morning car horns and steady flow of traffic noise throughout the day (and night), even the raised voices from the street below – they all encompass what urban means to me, and serve as a reminder of the shift in my life, from village to city living