Belated birthday blog

Hello again folks 😊

I promised you a post about my birthday trip out, so here it is!

As an animal lover, I opted for a day at the zoo, without any hesitation. Me and le boyfriend ventured onwards, with much anticipation and excitement in the air. I shan’t bore you with a detailed itinerary or an exhaustive list of every animal we saw; but instead, it’s all about the highlights and snapshots. Enjoy!

Hungry hungry hogs
BABY GIRAFFE 🦒
monch monch monch
sploot
teeny weeny sea lion!
Beautiful elephants ❤️🐘
Rhino buddies
Trevor and Tulip the miniature donkeys

I did something (sort of) spontaneous

Hello hello my wonderful readers

A very positive post today so three cheers for that news! So, Thursday is the day I usually see my amazing boyfriend (I know you’re probably reading this so don’t get too much of a big head) 😉 we had no idea what to do last week, or even a time when we’d be free. Fast forward to midday and we’re sat in his car, still deciding what to do. So we just went for a drive and put our thinking caps on. And where did we end up? The beautiful coast 💙

Our first stop was somewhere for food as I was absolutely starving, bordering on ‘hangry’…not something anyone wants to witness or get on the wrong side of. I googled gluten free for where we were and ta-dah! A new cafe was discovered; and it turned out to be lovely. Earl grey tea with lavender was my drink of choice, even though I’m an avid coffee drinker. A gluten free toastie was on the menu as well. Nomnomnom delicious sustenance.

After we’d filled up on savoury food, I was led to an ice-cream place on the beachfront, guided by le boyfriend. And oh my gollygosh I was not disappointed. I was craving proper ice-cream man ice-cream; classic Mr. Whippy. But this place? This place had FLAVOURED Mr. Whippy options!! Strawberry, mint, chocolate, caramel, banana. And best of all? You could swirl flavours together. I opted for traditional vanilla and, probably my all-time favourite ice-cream flavour: mint. It was all swirly and beautiful and I stupidly forgot to take a photo for proof as I was too preoccupied with stuffing my face.

We ate our sweet treats whilst overlooking the beach and enjoying the glorious sunshine. Oh and dogspotting too because dogs are pure happiness and love. We rummaged around the stony beach to find some shells which were pretty abundant. And two hollowed out (nicer way of sayimg they’d been devoured and digested) crab shells which I found strangely fascinating.

On the drive home, I connected up my Spotify to blast some mostly old school tunes from our school days; cue us shouting along to Mr. Brightside with the windows wide open.

If that’s not an awesome and slightly spontaneous early summer day, I don’t know what is ☀️❤️

My dainty cup of Earl Grey tea with lavender
Just look at that 💙
Couldn’t resist bringing a few of these beauties home with me 🐚

New Forest road trip

Hello again!

As the weather is now turning back to what you’d expect here, I’ve been reflecting on the lovely weekend I had. Saturday was relaxed with a small veggie BBQ. Nomnomnom. And Sunday involved a trip to one of my favourite places: the New Forest 🙂 me and my fantastic boyfriend headed off to the wildlife park first. My excitement was pretty blatant and I’m not ashamed. I squeeed, I gasped and I almost cried with the sheer cuteness of what I was witnessing. Teeny weeny harvest mice chowing down on gigantic slices of apple. Otters juggling stones and squeaking nonstop with their buddies. And two ADORABLE newborn European Mouflon lambs. Luckily my boyfriend is an animal lover too and is also pretty accustomed to my reaction when something is hella cute. Don’t tell anyone, but he turns into a squealing mess when he sees alpacas 😉

Then a random drive around was on the cards; hunting out any picturesque or intriguing places on our way. A brief trip to a deer sanctuary was suggested, although by this time I was knackered, so sadly we couldn’t stay long 😦 although we did utilise the presence of a Mr Whippy ice-cream van and it was glorious in the 24°C heat. Eating PROPER ice-cream, outdoors, in April, in England? Would you believe it?

And for those of you who are silently urging me to post some photos, I wholeheartedly oblige.

OH AND I COMPLETELY FORGOT. One of the keepers was casually walking around with a blanket in plastic box. Colour me intrigued, I went over and lo and behold, a HEDGEHOG snoot did appear from under the blanket. It turns out his name was Bryan and he’s Leucistic; he lacks multiple types of pigments, but still had the dark eyes you’d expect. Basically, he looked like a blonde/slightly speckled light brown hedgie instead of the dark brunette you’d imagine for a European hedgehog. Great. Now I’m imagining hedgehogs in different coloured wigs. Sadly I didn’t get a photo as I was far too busy coping with my heart almost melting inside me.

Holibobs: The Follow-up

Hello hello!! Nice to see you all this evening; or whatever time it is in your part of the world.

As promised, I’m here to write up a quick little post about my recent trip. I was able to introduce my boyfriend to one of my all-time FAVOURITE places: Lyme Regis in Dorset ❤️ for those of you who haven’t been, photos will follow to show just how utterly gorgeous it is. Seriously. I’m not exaggerating. Here’s a brief, but informative, list of everything we got up to…

Monday –

  • Exploring the highlights of the town
  • Hitting the amusement arcade
  • Grabbing a cider whilst overlooking the beach
  • Stuffing our faces with food at the pub (whilst drinking more cider)

Tuesday –

  • Boyfriend had a shooting experience for his birthday with a couple of friends, whilst I met up with my dad and grandparents for brunch
  • Boyfriend then met them for the first time (he did extremely well!!)
  • Got to see my dad’s new house
  • Dinner and drinks at the pub

Wednesday –

  • Yummy breakfast in one of my favourite cafes
  • Another quick look at the sea before leaving
  • DONKEY SANCTUARY AND SEEING MY ADOPTED DONKEY WALTER ❤️

And amongst all of this, they were busily shooting a new film in various parts of the town! Very exciting 🙂

This cider is seriously scrumptious
Neverending nachos
Another food pic
Told you it was gorgeous!!
All gluten free right here
The ship they used for some of the filming
I miss it
Laurel on the right and Hardy on the left
Look at that face
MY BOY WALTER

Mottisfont

Good evening good evening 🙂 I hope you’re all having a good week so far.

Although it’s been very chilly so far this year, I headed off to Mottisfont with my boyfriend last week. Bit of a contrast to the last time I went in the middle of a heatwave. But it was a fabulous day out regardless; with plenty of photo opportunities.

Mottisfont Abbey is a historical priory and country estate in Hampshire, England. Sheltered in the valley of the River Test, the property is now operated by the National Trust

Monastery information

Order: Augustinian

Established: 1201

Disestablished: 22 May 1536

Dedicated to: The Priory Church of the Holy Trinity, Mottisfont

…Thank you Wikipedia

Below are some of my own shots that I’m pretty eager to share with you all


Short and sweet post this time, ladies and gents. But I think the photos speak for themselves.

Farewell + goodnight.

Kelsey x

Day at the Farm

Hello hello 😊 happy Monday!

I’ve had a very busy weekend which is quite rare for me *shock horror* hahaha. Saturday was a cinema day for a friend’s birthday and yesterday was a day at a petting farm. Yes. A farm. And you want to know the best thing? It was an ADULTS ONLY DAY AND IT WAS GLORIOUS. Don’t get me wrong, children are great. But it was so much quieter and just generally better.

The farm are all about encouraging you to get up close and personal with the different animals. In the spring, you can even hold lambs and goat kids 😍😍😍 other times of the year, you can hold rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens and ducklings. I realise I’m probably sounding like a big kid and you’re possibly questioning whether I genuinely am 25 or not. But let’s be honest: if you love animals, this sort of thing is ALWAYS a good idea, regardless of age.

I realise this wasn’t a particularly lengthy or informative post, but it’s nice to take a break from the more serious stuff sometimes. Oh and of course I have some photos for you all to enjoy 😉😁

Take care + look after yourself.

Kelsey xxx

What type of posts would you like to see?

Good evening! I hope you’re doing well 🙂 Thought I’d do a bit of research for my upcoming blog posts and pose a question to you all:

What would you like to see posts about?

The main focus will still be my struggles with chronic illnesses, depression, anxiety etc. And I do enjoy sharing some of my day to day stuff, photography and just general life posts. But what would you like to see specifically?

  • Maybe some book and gaming reviews (although I can’t guarantee they’ll have a professional sounding vibe to them)
  • Something relating to my cooking and baking; all recipes would be gluten-free and most would be vegetarian. Also I could do some food reviews and recommendations of good ‘coeliac friendly’ places
  • Possibly even some random posts with memes, quotes or funny jokes I’ve heard
  • Poetry (all mine and original)
  • Short stories (also all mine and original)
  • More ‘get to know me’ kind of stuff, like my taste in music, films, TV shows. And some more serious things such as causes I feel strongly about. Don’t worry though. I don’t intend on turning this into some kind of controversial, opinionated or preachy blog. That’s totally not my style
  • Could maybe try a type of Q&A kind of post. You ask questions in a message or on the post itself and I answer. Simple. Well, assuming you actually ask appropriate things and I feel comfortable divulging the info.

SO MANY OPTIONS AND I NEED SOME HELP, FOLKS!

Drop me a comment or message if you have any ideas or requests.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Kelsey x

Academic Absence Part II – Reinventing Myself

After getting pretty emotional whilst writing my previous post, I thought it was best to have a little break. But now I’m back, feeling reasonably good and ready to write the more positive side of this story.

Without the academic part of my life, I had to find something to replace it. I was daunted at the prospect but I knew there had to be something out there for me. I knew there had to be more to me than studying and grades. I knew I’d get there and feel complete again. With my concentration and memory almost totally shot, I needed easy-going, relaxed hobbies; maybe something to tap into my more creative side. And with that, here’s a list that will hopefully shed some more light on this ‘new me’ and possibly give you some inspiration and ideas to help you on your journey 🙂

Photography

Okay, so not everyone can get out into the big, wide world and capture things on camera. But for me, it’s been a huge part of my life since being ill. I got into it beforehand, but I didn’t really hone my skills until after my M.E diagnosis. Even with just leaving the house for half an hour once a week, I might have been able to go into our communal garden and photograph some plants. Or some wildlife if I was lucky. Since moving to a house, I can easily watch the birds through our patio doors; catching photos of them in flight or feeding from the bird table. Photography essentially allows me complete creative freedom. I can choose whatever subject I like, whether that’s landscapes, flowers, insects or wildlife. I have control over what path I take with it and I love that. To feel in control of something again was wonderful. It really did, and still does, make a huge difference. I’ve even had online friends tell me in the past that they live vicariously through all my photos; they feel like they were there with me, enjoying the moment in real life. And that was something that encouraged me even more. I’ve known so many chronically ill individuals who are bedbound, housebound, wheelchair bound etc, and to know that my newfound hobby was helping them with their struggles? That spurred me on. So not only was I doing it for myself, I was doing it for others. Talk about silver linings, eh?

Pen Pals

Right at the start of my illness, I struggled immensely with the isolation and lack of contact with my peers. After seeking out some online forums, I made some incredible new friends; all of whom were in the same or a very similar situation to myself. Those I got closest to were then more than online friends. We became pen pals. I purchased a ton of cute stationery (Paperchase being a classic favourite) and got cracking. My hand would hurt. I’d have to take breaks. Sometimes I couldn’t reply to letters for days, even weeks. But I knew that the person on the other end would understand and patiently await my reply. There was no pressure at all. I was writing these letters and cards because I wanted to. I wanted to know how my friends were doing. I wanted to be able to cheer them up on a particularly rough day. And admittedly I did want to show off my new stickers, cards and funky letter sets. It gave me something to look forward to. At one point, I would receive a letter or more every single day. With hindsight, I can say that my pen pals helped me a hell of a lot more than I realised at the time. I began to feel less lonely and out of touch with people my own age. I’d found others in the same shitty place as me and we knew we could rely on each other. We had an instant common ground and connection. It was wonderful.

A New Focus

So this is probably the biggest and most important change for me. From a young age, I’d always been career focused. And even though the job itself would change (vet, doctor, fashion designer, forensic scientist, midwife), the same determination and goal was still there. When the possibility of this was thrown into question, I didn’t know how to react at first. As I said before, I was lost and didn’t know who I was or would be in the future. I had to find something else for my busy mind to concentrate on and work towards. And one day, it just sort of clicked. I realised that having a career wasn’t everything. I also realised that there was so much more to life than qualifications and grades. A lot of you will have always known this, but I hadn’t. It was all I’d ever wanted and been good at my whole life; learning, getting top grades and succeeding with it. But now I saw the light. I saw all the new opportunities out there for me. I had fresh goals and dreams to put into place for my future. I could do something with my creative writing and/or photography. I could work with animals. I could start a family. All these life events and routes that I’d never thought about before suddenly became very real and exciting prospects. I wasn’t all about a high-flying, high intensity job anymore. I knew I could be happy another way

Escapism

Plenty of you out there are likely to be avid readers or gamers; or both if you’re anything like me. I’d been a bookworm as a child but slacked, quite predictably, in my teenage years. I still had a few books in my bedroom, but they would often go untouched for months. But once my sleep problems appeared, I found my old friends again. Back then, it was taking me 2-3 hours to get to sleep at night, regardless of when I went to bed. I didn’t always want to watch TV, so I remember picking up my copy of The Order of The Phoenix. Despite being daunted by the sheer size of it, I hunkered down for a nice reading session. And that was the moment the obsession began anew. I’d fill those couple of hours prior to slumber with make-believe worlds and fictional adventures. I was escaping from reality without leaving the comfort of my bed. When I was eventually put on melatonin to aid my sleep, I was getting to sleep within half an hour of my head hitting the pillow. So instead of my escapism happening at night, I had to move it to the day. Whilst my concentration was dire when it came to learning and retaining facts, I found fiction to be much easier to grasp. Maybe it was simply because I was doing it for pleasure as opposed to a grade or important test. Frankly I didn’t really care. I just loved my books and that was that. The same thing applies to gaming. I’ve played god knows how many different titles in my 25 years but they just keep getting better. Fallout 4, Skyrim, GTA V, Dragon Age Inquisition; these are my recent favourites. I found them all to be incredibly immersive. I’d simply load them up and get lost in the stories. Plus the violent side of some games were extremely good stress relief :’) It probably sounds quite lame to some of you, but when I was able to do a lot less than now, video games were a brilliant escape. It was another case of me being in control. I still had power over something, even when I didn’t have it over my own health. And yes there’s been countless occasions when I’ve been addicted and lost track of time. I admit that it’s a double-edged sword for me. On the one hand, I’m filling my days with something I love and can escape into. But on the other hand, you can easily forget about other things and the people around you. Moderation, moderation, moderation is my answer to that.

I think that might be it for me today. I can sense a headache looming under the surface and I don’t want to make it too angry. I’m not sure how insightful this post actually was to be honest. Be sure to inform me if you felt it was though! It would be great to see that my effort wasn’t in vain. And of course, I totally understand that hobbies such as these aren’t feasible for everyone, which upsets me a lot. And this wasn’t intended to make anyone feel disappointed or angry at their limitations. It was merely my way of saying how I personally coped, grew and made the most of my own personal abilities. And maybe it will give some of my readers a sense of hope for their future. I’m writing this blog post 7+ years after initially getting ill and I wasn’t totally sure I’d ever get here. My newly discovered hobbies are one of many factors that have kept me sane over the past few years. And most importantly, I’ve gained the knowledge that, wherever you are in life and whatever your strengths, there’s something out there for you to embrace, pursue and excel at; it might just take you a little while to find it.

Peace and love to all. Kelsey over and out x

Cotswolds Trip Day 2

Might as well jump straight back in!

Snowshill Manor

Now, this is a strange one. From the outside, Snowshill looks like a regular, unassuming National Trust property. Lovely gardens, buildings, surroundings etc. But ohhhh no. Don’t fall into that misguided trap. I’m now going to quote Wikipedia because they’ve summed it up nicely.

It is a sixteenth century country house, best known for its twentieth century owner, Charles Paget Wade, an eccentric man who amassed an enormous collection of objects that interested him.

See what I mean? It’s not a museum either. It is genuinely just one mans collection of things he liked: weapons, toys, bicycles, furniture, armour, masks, plus a ton of other stuff. It was so overwhelming to go into each room. They were utterly PACKED with allsorts of bits and bobs; you just didn’t know where to look. I’m trying to think of a way to actually structure this post as it’s a place you have to see for yourself to really appreciate. I think I’ll just post some photos of my favourite bits, add (not very helpful and inane) captions and let the photos do the talking.

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The exterior
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The exterior, different angle
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Part of the beautiful gardens
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MODEL HARBOUR
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His bedroom
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Here we go…
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Where do you look?!
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Creepy masks
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Even creepier armour
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And again…
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Practical stuff
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Just a giant ship & many bikes
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Look at that gorgeous piano!
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I’m in love with all of these
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One section of the music room
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That’s one old, heavy book
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LOOK AT THE SIZE OF IT

Cotswolds Trip Day 1

I’m back at last! Well I actually got back from the Cotswolds on Tuesday but lets not split hairs here. I’m going to be taking a detour from my health story this time to tell you all about my mini holiday; something far more light-hearted than doctors and exhaustion. I’ll be sure to try and include some photos in this post as well. Sadly the quality of the photos may be reduced as I’m having to get them from my Facebook account. But you’ll still be able to get the general idea of what a GORGEOUS place the Cotswolds is 🙂

Burford

First stop on our Cotswolds visit was the lovely town of Burford in Oxfordshire. Having been a couple of times before, my mum and I both knew it had to be on our list. There’s so many lovely, independent shops to peruse and mooch around in, including the extremely unique and utterly charming Oxford Brush Company. And yes it is exactly that; a quirky shop full of almost every brush you can imagine. I was particularly intrigued by the hedgehog boot brush. Then there’s The Cotswolds Cheese Company. At this point it’s probably worth telling you all that I pretty much LIVE for food. My diet is gluten free because of Coeliac disease and I choose not to eat meat (I still eat fish, so I’m a Pescetarian) but I basically eat everything apart from that. No shame foodie over here! Oh right, the cheese shop. I don’t know about you lot, but when I’m faced with a full cheese cabinet, my heart starts racing. I want to try them all; apart from blue cheese because cheese should not have veins. So then you take the only sensible route and try all the ones you can before buying. Cue some interesting faces made by me and my mum and a number of minor disagreements. We eventually decided on a ewes milk cheese called Wigmore; a beautifully creamy, semi-soft cheese made in Berkshire. I’m no expert but I’d compare it to a brie which I just adore. We bought a second cheese but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was called. Disappointing.

Next up on the agenda was finding somewhere gluten free friendly for us to eat. As I mentioned, I’ve got coeliac disease so have to have a totally gluten free diet. My mum has a gluten intolerance and my nan is a coeliac, so it seems to be a genetic kind of thing. I’m so used to researching places online that it’s just second nature now. After quickly browsing some review sites and various menus, I suggested The Cotswold Arms. I opted for the gluten free haddock and mozzarella fishcakes, whilst my mum chose the gluten free Portobello mushroom burger.  Food glorious food is what I shall say about that. Brilliant, friendly service too and a relaxed pub atmosphere.

Once we were suitably filled up, off we went to visit a lovely friend of ours. I know she reads my blogs so I’m waving to you! You know who you are 🙂 Many laughs were had by us all. A really nice couple of hours. After that, it was onto our accommodation to relax, eat and just enjoy some mother daughter time. Our day was rounded off nicely with some cheese, nibbles and a glass of wine for me.

I hope you found this as interesting to read as my previous posts. I thought I’d mix things up a bit and see how it went down with my audience. Oh and I best post some of the photos I mentioned before I go.

Goodbye for now. Kelsey x

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St. John the Baptist Church, Burford
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My fantastic lunch!