Monday, 31 December 2012

Reflecting on 2012.

What a year 2012 has been? I know I say it every year but how quickly did it whizz by? I have to say, unlike other years, I am quite sad to leave 2012 behind because, despite some down times, it really has been an incredible year!!! So I am going to reflect on it so I can take it all in. 

1) What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
Even though I achieved some amazing goals in visiting places on my 'to visit list' this year. I don't think anything can top this little guy coming into the world. Cohen has graced our family with such happiness since April and we just adore him. I love being an auntie to him. 

2) What was the single most challenging thing that has happened?
This is a tough one but I think making the decision to leave my job this year. It was the first job I got since I qualified in 2010 so it meant a lot. I found it very hard to hand in my notice and take the leap to develop myself further. It's so easy to become comfortable where you're at and the amount of times I nearly retracted my resignation was a lot. Looking back though, even though it was a challenge, I am a lot happier in my new position!

3) What was an unexpected joy this year?
I have to say the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. I had been looking forward to it all year but I was completely surprised with how taken I was with it. I pretty much watched coverage of it at any given opportunity! It was such a honour to see Team GB win medals and compete on my home turf. It was a pleasure to see people from all over the world travel to the UK to root for their country. It was a time of explicit joy and I will never ever forget those moments, of screaming at the television, crying when we won medals, being in awe of all the amazing athletes, for the rest of my life! It was an incredible month of sportsmanship. 

Tom Daley winning bronze for Team GB in the 10m platform diving. My favourite Olympic highlight. Pure joy!

4) Pick 3 words to describe 2012.
Loved, adventurous and blessed.

5) What were the most entertaining things you have seen/done this year?
Where do I start? Visiting California and Vegas (I got to meet my blog friend April!)! Trying my hand at Golf in Spain. Cycling in Cornwall and The Lake District. Booking Florida 2013! Watching the Queens Jubilee concert. Seeing Matilda, Ghost, Jersey Boys and Shrek in theatre. Standing at the top on the o2 arena. Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Sydney, snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, holding a Koala in Brisbane and cheering on Team GB in the Rowing at Eton Dorney! 

6) With whom were your most valuable relationships?

Forming colleague friendships in my new job is up there. I was really worried whether or not I would 'fit in' and settle well but I really have. They're a fantastic team, and I see them as my friends now and not just my colleagues. I have to say my favourite and most valuable relationship this year has been with Simon. This time last year I had only just met him and we were getting to know each other. A year later he is my best friend and I value our relationship so much. He's my rock!

7) What was the single biggest waste of your time this year?
This is a tough one but my biggest downfall is I over-analyse things. I have done that a lot this year! I worry and make bigger issues out of things than they needed to be. In some cases I over thought (and cried way to many times) on things that hadn't even happened but I was worried they would become bigger things - if that makes sense? I guess I need to take a step back and let things unfold naturally. 

8) What are you most proud of doing this past year?
The Airmail Christmas Exchange. It's very rare that I am able to 'care' for a patient outside of work and to have been able to have fulfilled 'Robin' Christmas wish was a great thing to be apart of. It's been very humbling to have seen the response and promotion of it!

9) What was the most enjoyable aspect of this year for you?
Without a shadow of a doubt taking a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and touring Australia. I am really proud I finally bit the bullet, saved and went to Australia. For years I said I would go but never did anything about it. Now as we head into 2013, to be able to say I held a koala, snorkelled in the Great Barrier Reef and visited my dream destination is awesome! 

10) How did you spend Christmas 2012?
I worked Christmas Eve on a late shift but had a great time which was kind stressful as we had patients desperate to go home but were too poorly too. Once it calmed down we ate lots of chocolate, ordered food and played games with our patients. Great fun! On Christmas day I worked an early shift and was able to finish at 2pm. I know a lot of people hate working Christmastime but I don't mind it at all. After all my patients didn't get to go home and I did. It certainly was something I was grateful for! Then I headed home for a Christmas meal with Mum, Dad, Rach, Phil, Aunty Lucy and Uncle Paul. We played trivial pursuit and lots more game. Simon even turned up in the evening to surprise me! On Boxing day I had an unexpected day off and in the afternoon Nicola, Robbie and Cohen came over for dinner. I requested to work Christmas so I could spend New Year off with Simon and our friends!

11) What did you do in 2012 that you hadn't done before?
I turned 23 years old =] and I did loads in Australia and America. To say in 2012 I swam/flew over two of the natural wonders of the world (Grand Canyon & Barrier Reef) is crazy! Plus, I got to go and watch The Olympic rowing team - just brilliant!

12) Finally your plans for 2013, what are you most looking forward to?
I'm looking forward to calming things down a bit. 2012 was a fun and manic year all rolled into one. 2013 seems to be the year of weddings! As Simon's best friend is getting married in Ireland. I will be bridesmaid for Nicola whose getting married October 14th in Cyprus and my friend Laura is getting hitched December 1st too! I'm excited for our trip around Florida in June as well! Also, Cohen turns one in April and I am aiming to hopefully be in a position to start house hunting by the end of 2013 as well. Lots of look forward too!

However you're spending your last day/night in 2012 I really hope you all look back on 2012 with fondness. 

See you in 2013 everyone! Happy new year! 

Monday, 24 December 2012

Wishing You All A Very Happy Christmas

It's the day before Christmas and I am about to head off to my late shift at work. I really do love working Christmas. It's a time where I really appreciate what I have, when I am working with a great team, to try and help people feel better. There are some people that don't get to go home this Christmas and I try to be someone who can bring Christmas to their hospital bed side.

It's also the time of year where I take a sit back from blogging and enjoy some time away from the internet for a week. I have a few things planned and a little time off work in the lead up to new year.

So it leaves me with just one message I'd like to say to you all.

May this Christmas season bring nothing but joy and happiness to you and your families.

And I want to leave you with my biggest blessing from this year. My nephew, Cohen, has been absolutely fascinated with the Christmas tree and it's decorations. But this week he found the presents under the tree and undid bows on the gifts. His face and excitement summed up Christmas in a nutshell. Sheer joy and innocence!

Happy first Christmas sweet boy! 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Airmail Christmas: Pictures Please

I hope everyone is starting to get their lovely cards through the mail? I received mine a couple of weeks ago and have it proudly hanging from my card tree, 

Some people have started emailing with their Christmas cards. Once you receive your card please, please, please take a picture so it can be added to the gallery Laura Anne has set up. This way Robin's family can see the effect it has had and hopefully make their Christmas a little brighter this year! You can see some of the pictures here. It's so good to see!

Thank you again and Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

One Year

A year ago tonight I drove to Reading to go on a date with a man I had barely met. I remember I got totally lost as to where the car park was so had to drive around trying to bay park worrying I was going to be late. I remember as clear as day that it was freezing and I waited outside our meeting spot for him. I'll never forget the moment he came over, said my name and gave me a hug. We went and saw 'New Years Eve' in the cinema and he kissed me on the bridge afterwards. The rest, as they say, is history...

The 18/12/11 changed my world completely upside down and still a year later he is still doing that to me. Simon is my best friend, my constant support, my ear to speak/vent/cry to and the one person I honestly could not live without.

He gets me. He accepts my flaws. He tells me when I am wrong and pushes me to go for things. I am his biggest fan and I always will be. He still makes me laugh as much as the day I met him. He still annoys me as much as the day I met him. It is just so gratifying to know and have him in my life.

 Just over the one year together we have done so much and I can't wait to make more memories with him. I love him more than he'll ever know. I see him as the man I am going to move in with, he's the person I want to walk down the aisle to and I do see him as the father of our kids. I remember when I went through my Sex and the City obsession and Carrie said something in a scene that has stayed with me since - "I'm looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each-other love." 

I found it.

Simon, Happy Anniversary. Thank you for introducing me to love.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Interesting things I learnt/saw in Australia.

In any country there are always little things you see differently. It's a culture thing I guess but there were so many little facts/snippets I learnt and took in over there. Below is a little list and the Aussie effect.

1) I always thought Kangaroos and Wallabies were just the Australian animal. They are native there and that was all. I did not realise how widespread the Macro-pod species are used! The Kangaroos and Wallabies are emblazoned on the Australian coat of arms. They are from a Macro-pod family which means "big foot" and as a result they can only travel forwards, not backwards. Therefore, Australia's motto is to always look and move forward. What an awesome motto to have as a nation? All because of a Kangaroo/Wallaby!

2) Their pedestrian crossings do not give you long enough to walk across the road (and Sydney/Brisbane have wide roads!) After about 5 seconds it's flashing for you to stop crossing!

3) The rivalry between states. I come from a nation where between our counties (not states) the only rivalry would be in sport. But in Australia it's a different thing altogether! I remember when I was in Queensland and a shop attendant asked me where I had been before going to Cairns. I mentioned Sydney and she said "Why would you go to NSW for? All about QLD here!!! We're kinder than those Cockroaches"  - uumm okay that's nice I guess.

4) It's very flat. I actually wondered if Australia have hills?

5) I was surprised at how very little history Australia have. I knew before going that in terms of the rest of the world Australia is a much 'newer' country. I guess I am used to British history being BC/AD and Australia's starts in the 1700s. I did speak to one Australian on the cruise who said they wished Australia had more of a culture- anyone agree?

6) 'G'day mate' is actually used a lot! I know this sounds weird but whenever anyone does a fake Aussie accent they always start it with 'G'day mate'. It's true though I was greeted by it almost daily from someone and I loved it!

7) So clean! I think London could use some tips at how to keep a city looking nice and tidy.

8) Barely saw any smokers. If you come to London or anywhere in the UK I probably see a smoker every couple of minutes. It was just something I noticed when in a bar one night the 'smokers area' had no-one in it. Bearing in mind it was a Saturday night and the place was packed.

9) I tried veggie mite and it's gross. It is not food.

10) Anyone understand what I mean when I say it's a different kind of sunshine in Australia? I have been on holiday to Spain in 32 degree heat and stifled then given up and sat in shade. On the other hand, in Australia, I found I could have just laid in it all day! Also, my tan is a little more golden, just saying.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Final days in Australia.

During our time in Australia I felt like time went at a nice pace. Even though there were some places I wanted to stay longer in I still felt like I got as much as I could out of our destinations. It's only now that I am home that I realise just how quickly my travels in Australia went. 

Below is the video from our last few days and these last few days were just some of the best days of my life. I think the song Simon chose for this video is just perfect - everything has changed.

Airlie Beach & Whitsundays - I would have liked to have spent longer here too as I hear SO MUCH about Airlie and the surrounding islands. But due to prompt timing of where we had to be next I didn't mind missing out on it so much. We still got to cruise around Willis Island, see Fraser and see Cayman island. It just would have been nice to have ventured onto the actual beach. There are 74 Whitsunday islands up the east coast. Some are habitable and some are not but they really look like those lost remote islands you see in films etc. 

Great Barrier Reef -  JUST WOW!!! I could do a whole post entry on this alone. It was incredible, beautiful, quiet, magical...just so out of this world!!! I remember I felt quite nervous to go snorkelling because we were given a lesson about Box Jelly fish (the most deadly animal in Aussie and it was stinger season). However once I was in there, there was no getting me out of there. I swam in there for 3 hours and it just has to be one of the most spectacular places I have ever visited, let alone to swim in it. It really is another world under the surface. The coral was stunning and all the fishes you see are gorgeous. I loved how they swam right next you and it just had me in disbelief that I was really snorkelling in one of the natural wonders of the world! The only way to explain it is like you're in two different realms. When your head is above water you don't realise what is going on underneath you, it almost looks like a normal ocean. But when you put your head slightly in the water you feel like you're on a totally different planet! It'll be something that'll stay with me for a lifetime. Below a video Lotte filmed of me snorkelling the reef. 

Brisbane - I felt like was in a sunnier version of London! It had a wheel like the London Eye, a bridge over South Bank, Parliament Square etc. I kind of felt like I was at home with the place. I thought the people of Brisbane were the friendliest! They were more than happy to help with our map locations and directions. Plus, I thought the place in general was smarter, cleaner and more modern than the other cities I saw. 

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary - you know what? This was such an awesome way to end our trip! It was more than a Sanctuary for Koalas. We got to see sheep herding, touch and walk among Kangaroos and meet Dingoes! The highlight was, of course, holding a Koala. The Koala's name was Sherelle and so cute. I can see why people say they are cuddly like bears but they are not bears. Her fur felt a bit like rough carpet but she was so sleepy on me. You kind of wish you could sneak them home! The pictures I have I will treasure!

So that's a rap! I still can't believe I have been able to tick Australia off of my 'to visit list'. It was just an exciting country to visit and if it wasn't for the flight time I would love to visit more often!

Australia - I will never forget you. Ever. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Queensland - Australia

Our next stop was seeing cities in the state of Queensland. It is such a huge state that I think we barely covered any of it! On this part of our trip we went on a cruise up the east coast. I have never been on a cruise before and it was an experience! Below is the video from our time there.

Cairns - I really liked Cairns. I never knew it was a tropical city so they only have summer and winter, that's it! It was also really hot- about 35 degrees minimum and VERY humid. I had to wear my swimwear and a sun dress just to keep cool. One of the things I really liked about Cairns was that it had hills and mountainous areas. About 80% of Australia is flat land so a lot of cities we saw didn't have backdrops so to speak. 

Cairns by night was the most fun! It has a long esplanade and they had street performers and singers. It was almost the Covent Garden in London of Aussie! There's also a funny story (well I didnt think it was at the time) but in the video there is a picture of me standing next to a really pretty lit tree (they had decorated for Christmas!). So, naturally I wanted a photo! I went up to the tree and as Lotte was taking my photo she said "the tree is moving?" and I thought it was just a breeze! And then I noticed crawling up me loads of bugs. The tree was infested with termites, not such a pretty tree after all!

Botanical Gardens - We decided to do a panoramic tour of Cairns on one of their bus tours. When I saw that botanical gardens was on the itinerary. I wasn't the best enthralled!  But I have to say I was delighted to have been proven wrong. It was like a magical kingdom in there! It was so lush and we had green keepers show us their 'deadly' plants like the venous fly traps etc. It was really interesting! We also visited a beach called Palm Cove which just looked and felt like Paradise! in fact, Nicholas Cage was staying at that beach when we visited at the time.

Newcastle - We actually visited Newcastle first before sailing to Cairns. We went on a Dolphin tour there and it was also the first day we had of just glorious sunshine. I was so happy! We saw a couple of Dolphins but it is mating season for them at the moment so they tend to venture further away from shore to mate.Yet, I was pleased to see some and the boat ride was really good too!

Kuranda - This was my favourite day in Cairns. We visited the northerly town of Kuranda which used to be a place where Aborigines used to settle. It is quite popular now as there is a sky-rail that runs through it. We didn't have time to do the sky-rail but we did go to Tjapukai Aboriginal and Cultural Park which was great! We saw aboriginal dancing, had a boomerang lesson and took a WW2 Army Duck tour through their rainforest. So much fun!

For your information I am still useless at Boomerang throwing despite the lesson in it.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Sydney - Australia

This week will be - Australia themed - on my blog as I want to document my travels to the southern hemisphere. When I got back I had a tonne of photos I wanted to share with you all. But the posts would be so long! So I decided to make a few little videos instead to consolidate them. I just want to thank Simon who actually made the videos and spent all last Sunday evening doing them for me - I have a very sweet boyfriend!

So today I am kicking off with Sydney! Our start to Sydney wasn't that great. We landed about 7am and it was raining. I just remember thinking "how typical!" but we were also really tired. We probably spent about 45 minutes in the terminal looking for our transfers to the hotel and after a local taxi man guided us in the right direction we found them. I won't lie I spent the time cursing Virgin and their useless information at that point!

Then once we got to the hotel we were told our room would not be ready until 3pm! My mood went through the roof! I had been on a 24 hour flight, sleep deprived, my body clock was out of sync and I really wanted a shower! So then to be told at 9am that morning we had to 'wait it out'. I was beyond annoyed. So we walked around Sydney, got breakfast and we were given vouchers to go to Sydney Zoo which broke up our day. 

It wasn't until we were at the zoo that my mood subsided and I realised I was HERE! Finally I had reached Australia and as tired as I was. I was so glad to be there! Below is the video.

Chinese Garden of Friendship - We visited here our first day. It was really nice to walk around. The Garden was given as a present from China to symbolise the bond between the two countries.

Palm Beach - *sighs* Even though it was a 2 hour bus journey out there it was 100% worth it. The beach was so much more beautiful than I imagined. The sun was shining and I absolutely loved picking out places where dramatic story lines had taken place from Home and Away. Unfortunately they weren't filming. One of the beach caretakers told us they had finished filming the location scenes for 2012 two weeks before. So I felt better in knowing they were never filming there whilst I was in Aussie!

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb & Opera House - The climb was absolutely fantastic!!!! Sadly, it rained all day and was cloudy but the views were still breath taking. It takes 5 hours to complete and my legs felt like jelly at the end! We were also told about it's history and how it was built. I have to say it was the highlight of Sydney for me! The Opera house is just as beautiful as it is in the pictures and we saw a man propose to his, now fiancĂ©e, on the opera house steps. Amazing! But I think the bridge is my favourite Aussie land mark!

Bondi Beach - When I look back on Sydney my only wish would have been to have stayed an extra day and spent an afternoon lying on this beach. It's true what they say - it's surfers paradise - and it was cool to see them surfing right in front of you. They're so good!!! It was such a fun beach, they had competitions running, a fun fair and surf lessons taking place. We only spent enough time there to take some pictures, eat an ice cream and dip our feet in the sea.

Sydney Eye Tower -  This is the tallest building in Sydney standing at 309 metres high and it gave the most amazing views. We could see the harbour bridge, the Olympic stadium, Blue mountains and Bondi beach. It was a great way to end our time in Sydney to see such panoramic views of where we had travelled to.

Looking back I think Sydney was my favourite city we visited. I think it is partly because we spent the longest there but also it had so much to offer. How could you ever be bored there? The only drawback was with it being a city things were a little more expensive like eating out and souvenirs were a little dearer too. But to sum it up? 

I loved every little millisecond, rain or shine.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Airmail Christmas - UPDATE

A big THANK YOU to everyone who took part in the Christmas card exchange! It's fun isn't it? I have to say I was not expecting 28 people to take part. I was blown away when I came home from Oz last week to see how many people took part. THANK YOU!!!

I was updated by Laura Anne and Holly that everyone now has a name of a person to send a card to. So now get sending! Also, a big thank you to Laura Anne and Holly who oversaw it all whilst I was away. They promoted it and sorted it whilst I was on my travels. I, simply, could not have done it without them!

Lastly, I just wanted to bring it back to the basics of why we did it. It was a pleasure to nurse and get to know 'Robin' whilst she was ill and going through her palliative journey. By taking part we have made her Christmas wish come true and, I know I cannot speak for you, but for me it is a very humbling feeling.

Yesterday, Robin's wonderful husband came in to collect her death certificate. I told him about how amazing you guys were, how many took part and that people from not just the UK but USA, Australia, NZ and even South Africa participated. 

He cried.

He was so overwhelmed and touched. I have given him my blog address and the other girls too so when we post the pictures of you with the cards you have received, he and his twins can see it.

So what's next?

Take a picture of you with your card and send it to the email address We will then post them on our blogs so 'Robin's' family can see them. If you want you can do a post on the card you have gotten on your blog, even better! I just know it would mean the world to them! They are very much struggling with the idea that Robin won't be physically with them this year.

Once again, thank you and I hope to make this annual event for years to come. The more the merrier!

Happy December everyone! 

P.S. I'll be doing Australia theme on my blog next week. 

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