Self Love Llama

I’m currently propped up on the sofa with a bad back. I’m hoping it’s not my advancing years already! But breathing hurts right now. So I thought I’d use my time wisely instead of scrolling through Instagram comparing myself to everyone.

Thank you to everyone who messaged me or commented on my last post about friendships and feeling like you have a temporary existence. It’s always nice to know you’re not the only one, it can be a very lonely place inside your own head. Thankfully, very slowly, talking about mental health and feelings is becoming more commonplace. There is a long way to go but it’s all going in the right direction.

I always feel better when the clocks change and the days get longer. I am also being kinder to myself. For two reasons, firstly, I was listening to The Fringe of It, again, and they were discussing the difference between how you talk to yourself and how you talk to friends. This hit a nerve with me, I never sugar coat anything with friends, and always tell them the truth, but I definitely put myself down a million times more than I ever would a friend. I seem to have got into a habit of only ever seeing the negative in myself. I rarely, if ever, celebrate something I have achieved or if I happen to have a good outfit/hair day. I’ll only notice what I perceive as negative.

It takes about 25-30 photos to get one I actually like of myself. If I’m photographing something else or someone else I’ll take less than half. I do not photograph well at all. I don’t care what anyone says I have much photographic evidence. It may seem so silly but it genuinely gets me down sometimes. I am fully aware there are hundreds of worse things, but lately, along with my anxiety getting worse, I have felt more and more unhappy about my appearance, especially in photos. So I am slowly trying to teach myself to be kinder and stop hating on myself so much.

The second reason was because I happened to see something someone shared on Instagram. It was so simple but completely changed my outlook. It simply said ‘Don’t believe everything you think.’ The last few weeks that simple sentence has stopped three panic attacks. As I said, my anxiety has been slowly consuming me lately, it is so easy to believe every awful thought that comes into your head and let it eat away at you. So now I am trying, each time I have an attack or a chain of horrible thoughts to simply repeat that sentence and question what I am thinking, instead of losing control.

I know everyone has their faults, but I used to like who I was. I suppose this is all still part of the recovery process, but I constantly feel like I am mourning the death of myself, or who I was. I have had many incredible opportunities and adventures since then, which I am so grateful for. And I have some of the most wonderful people in my life, but I feel like I’ve had a soul transplant. Like some weird sci-fi movie. I know a lot of people didn’t even know me then and those that do, probably wouldn’t really notice the difference in me. Mostly because I kept everything hidden for a long time and also I was and still am, so conscious of the fact that it is all a lot for friends to deal with. A lot of the time I feel like it is my problem to deal with, which it is, and if I shared with people how many times I think about it I’d send them over the edge with me. Nothing will change what has happened and I am trying my best to cope and get on with life. I just need to learn to love who I am again and sometimes I am unsure how to do that.

I need to stop waffling! Basically what I am trying to say is, I am trying to be kinder to myself and so should you, because there is only one of me and one of you!

Enjoy eating ridiculous amounts of bank holiday food. Much love as always!

K x

Llama Gang

Hello, it’s me again, I know so soon.

This is just a quick little post about some thoughts and experiences I have had recently and I would like to know how you feel or if you have felt similar? I want to talk about friendships!

I will never ever declare I am some kind of mental health expert. I can only ever go on my own experiences and try to relate to those of others, but I do know it is so incredibly important to talk about it. Having good friends around you, physically or digitally can make one hell of a difference in times of need. Sometimes you just need to vent or rant to get it out of your head or maybe you just need someone to back up your thought processes. I feel like I am someone people could talk to about absolutely anything and I would listen without judgement. I take things told in confidence to the grave. Despite my outward appearances I am actually really nice. I just struggle when the world becomes too peopley or if I am tired, hungry or mildly inconvenienced.

I have been following a blogger called Liv Purvis (What Olivia Did) on Instagram for some time. Some of you may remember I attended a Blogger’s Market last April, she was one of the bloggers behind that event. Anyways, recently she started a podcast with one of her friends, Charlotte Jacklin called The Fringe of It. There are 4 episodes at the moment, on iTunes and the like. Please give them a listen! There is also a Facebook group, which I am a member of, for like minded individuals.

They cover things from friendships as adults, success and confidence. All of which resonated with me. I know I live a peculiar existence at uni especially at my age. I’d like to add I am not the only one, nor am I the oldest, but I am forever feeling like I have a temporary existence everywhere. I am incredibly lucky to have met people at vet school that I hope will be life long friends. I am also lucky to have wonderful friends at home. Life at home obviously goes on without you and inevitably you miss events and landmarks in peoples lives, even with the best intentions you can’t be in two places at once. Friends are buying houses, getting promoted or having babies and I’m still living the student life. Uni friends disperse over summer and you spend 4 months apart with clashing commitments, placements and free time plans getting in the way of meeting up.

Maintaining good friendships is incredibly hard, even more so when your life isn’t following a conventional path. One amazing positive of this is I feel like my friendship group is so broad in age ranges and life experiences, something you can sometimes miss out on if you only socialise with people at the same life stage as you. I am very grateful to vet school for this, I have close friends from all walks of life and from all locations that I would have never had the chance to meet otherwise.

I do feel that currently there is a trend to have a girl gang or support group, I would struggle to fill our cottage living room with people I feel are truly close friends. I have long been of the mind set of quality over quantity, unlike my wardrobe which is quantity and quality. And frequently have culls of people I feel are either unhealthy or don’t bring anything to the friendship table. But that does leave you in times where you are going it alone or at least it really feels like it.

When you start uni you’re given loads of different advice on all aspects of your experience but I don’t think anyone ever mentions or prepares you for how lonely you can feel. Or what to do if you do feel like that. Who can you talk to? I think this is difficult what ever age bracket you fall into. Regardless of how long you’re here for, that feeling never truly goes away because there are always life aspects missing. Obviously everyone has different experiences at university, it’s hard to be mentally healthy especially at vet school. All forms of life are stressful, but the veterinary profession has one of the highest suicide rates of any job role and that goes for students as well as graduates. I could go on here about the abuse you sometimes get or how many people believe vets are only in it for the money, where in reality if you cut out the chunk the vet gets from your overall bill you’d save approximately 10-15%. But that is a topic that could fill a whole post alone.

Anyway before I get off topic! If you hadn’t gathered from my other ramblings, I suffer with anxiety, sometimes to extremes. I often feel as though I don’t have many friends I can trust and I spend a great deal of time worrying that I have upset people or they don’t like me. This generally only applies to people I know and like. If someone insulted me in the street I’d make them feel 1cm tall.  It’s when I am invested into to friendships I struggle. Sometimes I think it’s just easier to be a cat lady and have done with it.

I better stop, so much for a short post! I want to know how you feel? Do you feel it’s easier or harder to make friends as an adult (I use that term on myself loosely)? Do you maintain friendships well and feel supported? Have you had to terminate unhealthy friendships? Do you have a girl gang?! Or am I completely alone in this?!

Much love,

K x

Llama Bakeries

Finally as I promised a long time ago, a run down on my favourite London bakeries. Apologies on the delay, you’d probably weep as much as me at the sight of my current to do list. I am currently taking advantage of my latest IBS flare up and treating myself to an admin afternoon with the Stereophonics as motivation. I am not quite sure where to start, I won’t grade them, as they each have their own unique selling point. So in no particular order.

Peggy Porschen

As most of you will know, I spent a great deal of last summer frequenting Peggy Porschen in Belgravia. The pink paradise has become so popular they now have a queuing rope outside. No joke. So my new strategy is to get a takeaway. Service for this is usually super fast and then swan off home to eat it in my pjs with Netflix. If you are yet to go, I would still recommend queuing and eating in whole heartedly. I threatened a few months ago to never return and Llama Supporter nearly had a small breakdown over never eating the dark chocolate truffle cake again.

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Elan

Another Instagram sensation. Elan can be found on Brompton Road, just along from Harrods or on Park Lane. Both as adorable as each other. There is a link to their website here. Elan are open until Midnight every day for those late night cake cravings. Llama Supporter and I have been twice after 9pm on a Friday night for emergency cake. The first time there were over 100 people waiting outside to Instagram their cakes. The second time, we went slightly later, around 10.30pm and picked out our takeaway order quite quickly. I know you might be thinking my Christ I could not be bothered, which is fine. But I will just say despite it seeming like just the place to be seen, the cakes are genuinely incredible.

Llama Supporter and I frequent Cote quite a bit, which does amazing Llama safe food, but we decided that paying in the region of £6 for a dessert from a limited menu was a bit excessive. Especially when you can go to somewhere like Elan on the way home and pick up anything that takes your fancy, and they’re all less than £6 a slice. So that is what we now do, except the last time we went we came home with nine slices, not all for us I might add. The Hipster Lawyer placed an order too!

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(also yes that is a gold walnut on the carrot cake)

Pearl & Groove

Thanks to our trips to Elan, we happened to discover a company called Pearl & Groove. You can find their website here. They supply the gluten-free, vegan and refined sugar cake options to Elan, so I decided to do some research and discovered they have a cafe on Portobello Road. As we were practically in the area, we made a visit. I felt slightly overwhelmed. If you are or have even been gluten-free, I am sure you are fed up with being offered one type of cake in the whole shop and tough luck if you don’t like it. If you are not gluten-free then imagine going out with your friends and having to eat a bag of Wine Gums every time. EVERY single cake in Pearl & Groove is gluten-free. I nearly shed a tear. It has never taken me so long to decide (Llama Supporter might disagree). I have now tried four different flavours and all are as amazing as the last. I can’t recommend the cafe highly enough. If it becomes an Instagram hit I may have a breakdown.

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They also deliver if you happen to live in London.

Primrose Bakery

Last but definitely not least, we have Primrose Bakery. We have been to both the Primrose Hill and the Kensington cafes so far. Both adorable, easy to get to and with lovely staff. They cater for gluten-free and vegan, celebratory dance. They also stock cute gift ideas, birthday party paraphernalia, t-shirts and aprons. Apologies if it all looks a bit the same, but the carrot cake cupcakes were so insanely good I couldn’t risk having something else and regretting it! I promise to have a different flavour next time and report back. Or failing that I’ll make Llama Supporter get something different and relay the info whilst I enjoy my amazing carrot cake.

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Are you still there? Apologies, but many thanks for sticking with my ramblings. If you have any cake recommendations send them on over, I am always up for trying new places. Also if you are ever lacking a cake eating buddy do not hesitate to give me a call. I can always make time for friends especially those accompanied by cake.

Right now I am off to sit in front of my wardrobe for the next hour trying to decide what to wear to the Vet School half way meal. Thanks so much for picking today for a flare up IBS. Yes, we’re half way, actually over argh. On Friday we get to touch cows. It’s suddenly becoming a lot more exciting. Stay tuned, there will be huge amounts of nerd photos.

As always thank you for your support, love and comments. You genuinely have no idea what they mean to me.

Much love

K x

Llama Meltdown

I know I promised cakes last time, they are coming. I have been expanding my waistline in the name of research. But I just wanted to check in first, as I’m having a difficult week. Well more of a rollercoaster week. As most of you will know from Facebook and Instagram I passed my January exams… *insert many celebratory dances here* after an agonising wait. So I am now currently 50% a vet! It all feels a bit surreal. Anyways that was my MAJOR high of the week.

Unfortunately it has been accompanied by many lows. My anxiety has been quite high in anticipation of results, so I have been far more emotional than normal. If you know me at all, I cry at anything so it’s been a bit draining. On Sunday I went with Llama Supporter to a family gathering and a lovely lunch. The venue in question literally bent over backwards and I had three courses, all free from gluten, wheat, dairy, onion and garlic. It was amazing. So I can highly recommend The Wheatsheaf on the Green in Esher! As there were quite a few of us present there were many conversations going at once. I had the misfortune of returning to one at exactly the wrong moment and was greeted with the R word.

As I was already highly strung with anxiety, I burst into tears almost instantaneously. Just to make myself feel even more anxious and awkward. I panicked and ran outside. By this point most of my eye liner and mascara was on my cheeks and chin. Strangers kept stopping outside but felt too awkward to approach me so just stood near me for a while then went inside or where ever they were going. I eventually made it back indoors and to the ladies where Mumma Bueno was, thank goodness, to comfort me. By this point the floodgates opened and I had to wash my face. Crying in front of strangers is not as bad as you’d think, I have cried in front of many, crying in front of your boyfriend’s family is a whole new level of awkwardness.

We eventually made it back downstairs to the starters thankfully so I could make small talk about those instead. And the rest of the meal and gathering passed without a hitch. Except for me spending the remaining time inside my own head wondering if people were questioning my weird behaviours or talking about me. I almost made it back home too but unfortunately my IBS went into absolute over drive and I had to make Llama Supporter take an emergency detour. I may as well have ordered straight from the menu after all as I was in the same position as I would have been. This promptly lead to a panic attack and then another one when we got back to London which was followed by two more before bed.

Thankfully Llama Supporter knows how to deal with me quite well by now and swiftly got the emergency duvet out (I like 2 duvets when I feel anxious/down/upset/etc), supplied me with tea and put Absolutely Fabulous on. And I resided with the fact that the rest of the night was out of my control as far as my emotions were concerned. I had another two panic attacks on Monday which resulted in me staying home from uni as I just couldn’t face dealing with people and/or having another meltdown in public.

Thank goodness Tuesday was the day of good results as I think that may have plunged me right over the edge. I still cried but with relief this time. But I honestly haven’t felt like celebrating or even fully registered them at all at the moment. I can’t seem to shake my anxiety off. This is the lowest I have been for a very long time and I am really struggling, even with friends. I have cried every day this week and had all manner of nightmares. I am hoping I can start to pick myself up a little more this week, as I really want to feel good about what I have achieved with my exams. Especially after the term I have had and my huge list of extenuating circumstances that accompanied them.

So if I seem a bit off this week, or you felt like I haven’t been the same friend as usual, I’m sorry. Sometimes it’s so tiring being inside my own head. This may seem like a huge reaction to one conversation, but it is like something explodes in my head and everything becomes white noise. After 5 and a half years I really hoped I’d be further along than this but right now, I’m not even in a place to deal with hearing the word. Hopefully I’ll be back to my moody, dramatic self soon to annoy you all again, and there will definitely be cake next time.

Much love

K x

New Year, New Llama

Well sort of. I gave up New Years resolutions a long time ago, opting instead for a set of goals for the coming year. This is something I started when I was about 15 and have tried to carry it on every year. Some things on the list are small and easily achievable and others need a lot more work/time.

Reflecting on the last year I was unsure as what to set them as this year. Vet School and EMS (placements) take a lot of my time up. Contary to popular belief we have to use our Christmas/Easter/Summer ‘breaks’ for placements. And I wanted to set goals that were achievable in some shape or form alongside uni.

In December I found out that Yoga with Adriene, who I found thanks to the Tooth Fairy, was starting a new 30 Day Yoga journey beginning on January 2nd. So that was the first item to make it onto the list. Today is Day 19 and so far I haven’t missed a video. Some days have felt like a chore but even on the days I have had to force myself to get on the mat, I have felt so much better afterwards. I am hoping to make it to Day 30 without missing one, so watch this space.

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Before the year is out I also want to learn how to do the crow pose. At the moment I am more likely to face plant the carpet, but I am working on it. I think it’s going to take me all year.

Something else I have been conscious of, is needing to make more of an effort with my self care and mental health. This is linked to yoga, but also to my diet, skin care and general well being. Llama Supporter has been telling me off for this for probably the best part of 18 months! So I thought it was time to take some action. Despite exam stress, my IBS hasn’t been too bad (touch wood) since Christmas. I am trying my best to stick to the FODMAP diet, which is time consuming on it’s own but so far, I think it’s paying off.  I hope you’re sitting down the Queen of Darkness and the Future Mrs Ryan Gosling. I also gave up Nutella for a month. I know it’s not a month since the New Year, I started on the 10th December. This may seem easy for some, but as the QoD and FMRG will tell you, if I’m missing, I’m usually found in kitchen eating straight from the jar. So just to prove I could survive without it, I decided we needed a break from one another! I have tried several healthier alternatives, including this one by Sweet Freedom. It is completely natural and even diabetic safe.

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As for skin care, gone are the baby wipes as make up removers. Late last year I started using Garnier Micellar Cleansing water for sensitive skin (pink lid). It worked a lot better than Johnson’s baby wipes, but I still wasn’t sold on the idea. Until they released an Oil-infused version for delicate skin. I don’t think my skin was this soft at birth. Mummy Sue has even swapped on to it, she’s now using the oil-infused one for dry, sensitive skin (white lid).

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As far as the rest of the list goes, I intend to explore further afield in the UK and abroad, naturally I have a list. So brace yourself. I also want to improve my photography skills… maybe starting by reading the manual for my camera.

What are your plans and goals for 2018? Has anyone tried Bullet Journalling?

Right now I’m off to raid the cupboards to find something to go with Saturday night tv.

K x

Next time: Cakes, a tour of London.

 

Tale as Old as Llama

If it wasn’t obvious, I am currently drowning in Vet School revision. Every year the Vet School sends out an email just before Christmas signing off with ‘enjoy your Christmas break’. The last Christmas I had without exams awaiting me in January was Christmas 2012. I know this is self inflicted but the next person to hint at the fact I have been doing nothing for the last three weeks is going to get it in the neck.

Right now we’ve got that out of the way, I did allow myself a revision break… I know how daring. Don’t worry I revised until we walked out the door and then as soon as we got back. I forced Llama Supporter to watch Mumma Mia after to celebrate (can you believe he’d never seen it?! Thanks to me he’s also been subjected to Dirty Dancing, Footloose (the original and in my opinion only version), American Graffiti and many more. And he’s yet to run away!).

Anyway I am getting so far from the topic. Back in July I was in ninja mode and managed to book an afternoon tea at The Kensington Hotel. Which is lovely enough, but this was even better and completely worth waiting six months to go to. If you happen to be a female between the ages of 18-35, you have probably seen the Cosmo articles all over Facebook advertising a Tale as Old as Time afternoon tea. Originally organised to celebrate the release of the new Beauty and Beast film. It sold out so fast they decided to extend it for another year, which also promptly sold out too.

It was everything I hoped for, and the staff not only encouraged you to photograph every Instagram angle imaginable but also helped out too. It was an absolute dream. I am totally over the embarrassment of making a tit of myself for a photo, I no longer have any shame (I’ve even started playing with videos, just when you thought I couldn’t get any more annoying!). Apologies to the doorman at The Kensington who couldn’t work out if I was ready to come indoors yet or not.

When we did eventually get indoors, we were seated at the cutest table with a biscuit awaiting us in the shape of Belle’s dress. Llama Supporter removed any evidence of his ever existing at lightening speed, I’m saving mine for after exams.

I have attached a copy of the menu so you can check it out for yourself. I swiftly found out that the tea supply was endless and new pots smoothly arrived without even asking. I had seven cups of Earl Grey, yes seven. I’d like to say that is a new record for me, but alas, during revision time in the cottage I could easily double that. I’m genuinely 90% tea. Llama Supporter went for Cloud Tea, which went a very pretty grey colour when milk was added, he didn’t make seven cups.

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Right now, I’m just going to bombard you with photos, the majority of them are unedited… shudder, but you know, I’m on a schedule at the moment!! Spot Julio the embroidered guinea pig. Anyway,  keep scrolling. That wasn’t the end of the day…

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Are you still there? Can you see anything but cakes?

You would think that cakes in the shape of Disney characters would be enough for one day but no! The stars aligned and what would you know, the Queen of Darkness decided to visit the Natural History Museum on the same day with The Aviator. You might think this is hardly chance, let me explain. I thought I’d be 40 before the Queen of Darkness graced London with her presence and she arrived on the tube. It was a New Years miracle. If you didn’t realise The Kensington Hotel is two roads away from the museum, so off we trotted (in heeled boots,.. me obviously. Llama Supporter is yet to crack out any Cuban heels, yet) to spend an hour with them.

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Right, there’s about 950 flashcards with my name on them… *silently weeps*

Much love

K x

(Next time New Years resolutions… kind of… if I survive exams)

2017 Llama

I’m procrastinating and in a bit of a food coma, so I felt it was time for a reflection on 2017. As we waved goodbye to 2016 I was in a very different place in every way. After months of counselling for various different reasons, I decided to take a gamble and open up about what was affecting me the most and then cried for about 3 days afterwards. I don’t care how dramatic I sound, it changed my life. It was a huge sense of relief not to have to make up excuses for my strange behaviour or for outbreaks of tears in supermarkets. Something I never expected was how many people opened up to me about their own experiences and trusted me with their stories. I won’t ramble on about it for too long and you can read exactly what I said in the post entitled Honest Llama in the menu on the right. My only regret is not doing it sooner, as it worked better than any form of counselling ever has.

Thanks to my list to try to keep me positive and happy through a repeat year, I have had adventures and experiences I couldn’t even dream of. So here are a few of my highlights…

Llama Supporter and I have explored most of London from the Kenwood to Kew Gardens, stopping off at every bakery in sight.

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I attended my first ever blogging event in Camden

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I had an amazing falconry experience with Miss Hermés

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Photographed nearly all of London with The Tattooed Crafter

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Visited The Ethicurean in Summer with The Queen of Darkness and in Autumn with The Future Mrs Ryan Gosling

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I dragged Llama Supporter to Dirt Quake and met Guy Martin (again)

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I turned 30… I’m not quite sure if this is a highlight but the gifts and trip to Sketch helped

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Started dabbling with embroidery

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Tried to perfect reverse parking a tractor and trailer whilst helping out with the harvest with my favourite farmers, who also very kindly let me tag along to Burghley Horse Trials and Olympia with them.

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Llama Supporter and I left the country twice, firstly to a very cold but beautiful Dublin as his Birthday surprise and secondly to the hot and gorgeous Rome.

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I also survived and passed second, second year. Third year is currently looking questionable. I’m in extreme panic mode now and am doubting my abilities more than ever. I am off back to my notes immediately after I finish this.

Obviously it wouldn’t be life without some downs as well as ups and unfortunately not everything has been rosy. Thankfully my student finances finally got sorted after being pushed to the ends of my patience and I even managed to change my car. Unfortunately as well as my IBS I managed to get Post Concussive Syndrome and proved that putting the shopping away can be more than hazardous. I am still sporting a bump on the head but thankfully the drugs are helping to keep my symptoms at bay! Hopefully I can also wave goodbye to that too in the New Year!

I’m sorry I’ve been quiet on here recently, as well as exam stress, I have been having tests. Some of you may be aware that my Mum suffers from muscle disease and has done since I was a child with some time spent in a wheelchair. Unfortunately I have now also started showing symptoms, I am off for further tests this afternoon to get referred. Obviously this is not ideal and I haven’t dealt very well with it. But due to recent events, I have decided that life is too short and I am going to carry on doing exactly what I want until it tries to stop me, then I’ll try a bit harder.

So back to being positive! Thank you to everyone who made my 2017 fabulous, in so many ways. I hope 2018 brings you everything you desire and I can’t wait to share more memories with you.

Heaps of Love

K x

Dedicated to Jaime Miguel Bueno and Pamela Evelyn O’Kearney who we sadly had to say goodbye to in 2017.

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