Lifestyle, Slow Living, Travel

And the adventure begins….. | 2017

Happy New Year! How weird it is to be in 2017 and yet how right, 2017 is especially exciting for me because in just two short weeks I shall be married to my best friend and the love of my life. For me New Year is always an exciting time of year, the scent of anticipation hangs in the air and anything seems possible. I do believe that you can make a change to your life whenever you want but the end of a year and the beginning of a new one is always a great time to reflect and think about where you are going. This year I am feeling a lot more settled and so it has almost been easier to start planning some of the things I wanted to achieve in 2017. I am definitely open for surprises and spontaneity and being led by God, but I also think its important to give yourself a few goals to motivate yourself. I love to read other peoples goals for 2017 so I thought I would share some of mine with you all.

Nourish:
In 2016 I started to get a lot healthier and I lost about half a stone in weight. It wasn’t everything I wanted to lose but it was a beginning and the start of some healthy habits I’m hoping will stick. This year I would like to lose a bit more weight and get back down to my natural healthy size, I want to keep up with my swimming three times a week and start doing some more yoga. I’ve also just started to buy my meat locally and a big goal of mine is start ordering a local veggie box to be delivered. I really enjoyed eating seasonally as its not only good for me and my body but also for the world around us. I’m hoping to continue to cook and bake and learn more about food along with my husband (eek!) and we’d also love to grow our own veggies and herbs.

Create:
This year is going to be another year of creating the life I want to lead. I definitely feel I am getting closer and closer, I now have a job I love that allows me to use my creative talents all day long and still have time off to do some writing. My goals this year are to finish my novel, write my children book and publish a few articles. I have been lucky enough to be asked to write for a care magazine so already 2017 is going to be the year of getting published! I also want to try to develop my blog more and see where that takes me.

Slow:
A big thing for 2016 was to learn to slow down and start living a more simple life, I definitely feel like this is something I have really started to do but I know there is still so much to learn and develop. I am enjoying learning about concepts like Hygge and Minimalism and how these can be applied to a christian lifestyle. My goal for 2017 is carry on developing, to make sure I spend time outside on walks with Russell, to read as much as I can, to bake and cook from scratch, to knit my own jumper and spend less money. I will be moving in with my then husband in two weeks and I think 2017 will be all about creating a life the two of us enjoy and learning to be present in the moment together.

Travel:
Something I think I would encourage all Christian couples to do is wait until you’re married to go on holiday just the two of you. Russell and I have never been on holiday just us and we are so excited to spend a week together away on our honeymoon. We get to kick start the year with a relaxing week in the Lake District and we are hoping to follow that with a few other trips. Both of us really want to travel and so my goal in 2017 is to make it to Amsterdam and Germany together and a few places in Britain like Bath and The Highlands. I know they aren’t the most exotic places but they are parts of the world I have always wanted to visit and I can’t wait to explore them with my Husband

Spiritful:
A big thing for 2017 will be developing a stronger relationship with God. I learnt so much about Him and myself in 2016 through reading, praying and spending time with my small group. I am excited to see where he takes me this year. I am also wanting to continue with my morning yoga and meditation, I devote this time to God and I find its a really important part of my day and really helps my anxiety. I know a lot of Christians will disagree with Yoga but for me I think we can learn so much from other cultures and concepts if we let God come into it and focus on him then it is a form of worship. I also want to learn more about mindfulness and how this can be done in a Christian way.

I am super excited for everything that will happen in 2017 and I hope you too are dreaming up some goals and plans for this year! 

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Christianity, Lifestyle, Outdoors, Slow Living

My 2016

It seems ages since I last sat down to write a blog post, it has been almost two months since the last time I posted and not blogging has felt a little bit like Im missing something. I feel a bit strange when I’m not writing, like theres a big part of me thats been tucked away in a corner somewhere. I know I should have prioritised it over the last few months but it seemed as though September started and my life moved into the fast lane. No sooner had I begun my new job, I was then starting a new course and the wedding jobs suddenly all needed to be done. It has been a completely manic few months and although we have had some time to relax over Christmas I am definitely looking forward to our honeymoon week. We have nothing planned other than relaxing and chilling out far away from everyone up in the beautiful Lake District. 
But enough of our plans for 2017! Today is about looking back on 2016 and all the things I’ve learnt over the last 12 months. I really enjoy other peoples yearly reviews and last year I did my own on the blog and I found it extremely therapeutic, I would really recommend each year looking back on what you achieved in the year gone by and setting some new goals for the next year.
2016 started off very differently to any other year as I had just left uni and had no idea what to do next. I knew I needed a job and luckily after lots of interviewing and applications I managed to land a job in beauty – an industry I though might be right for me and my future career. I worked as a skin care expert at The Body Shop, I love The Body Shop for everything they stand for and the difference they have made not only to the environment and animal welfare but also to the beauty industry itself. They have shown that it isn’t all superficial but can instead be about making a difference to our world and there products are actually amazing. I think had I really wanted a career in beauty this would have been the company but I soon discovered retail really wasn’t for me. The long hours and stressful days didn’t help my anxiety at all and I began to save up money so I could take some time out of work to figure out my next move. 
The summer was my time out from work to try to focus myself and figure out what I wanted from life. I also really wanted a chance to get some real writing done, my dream is to one day be a published author and so a lot of my time was spent writing my novel, creating blog posts and sending out articles to magazines in the hope some one would publish me. Unfortunately I heard nothing back from the magazines but I know most writers struggle at the beginning and the key is perseverance. 
It wasn’t a completely wasted summer at all though, not only did I write a lot and learn more about writing, I also applied for a course in Creative Writing at Oxford University. I had been thinking about going back to university to study something I actually really wanted to study but was struggling to find something in Oxford. Luckily my fiancé did some research and found the Diploma in Creative Writing at Oxford. I never thought in a million years I would get in to Oxford University but after an intense interview they offered me a place on the course. About the same time I also applied for a job in a care home. I had worked in care previously and something that had always been important to me was to have a job that made a difference to peoples lives. I found the job of Activity Coordinator at a care home in Oxford completely by accident and decided to go for it. I’ve now been doing the job for three months and am really enjoying it, its created lots of exciting opportunities for the New Year and fits perfectly round my course at Oxford. 
And of course this year has been very focused on one thing in particular – our wedding. I’m not going to lie it has been a pretty stressful, tiring and as times anxiety inducing experience but I am really excited to have got to this point. In two weeks time I will be Mrs Bearn and all the hard work of 2016 will have been worth it. 
Lots of other wonderful things have happened in 2016 and I feel I am in a much healthier and happier place than I was last year. I have started to lose weight healthily, we have moved to a village outside of Oxford which we love, I go swimming two-three times a week and I have made lots of new friends at the church we moved to in April. I definitely feel like God has taught me a lot this year and lead me into a deeper relationship with him. He has brought all aspects of my life together and I am feeling a lot more settled than I was this time last year. I am super excited to see what 2017 brings, I hope you all have a lovely New Years Eve and I will see you next year! 

What I Wore…
Top – Joules | Jeans – M&S | Jacket – Rydale 

Autumn, Fashion, Love, Outdoors, Vintage, Wedding

I Have Found The One Whom My Soul Loves……

The other day we had our engagement photoshoot and although it is almost a year since we got engaged we are so glad we decided to wait until autumn. October holds a special place in our hearts as not only is it our favourite season it is also the month we started dating two years ago. I also love the way autumn coats oxford in an array of mustards, burnt oranges, golds and browns and so we soon decided an autumnal photoshoot in Oxford would be a perfect keepsake of our time here. One thing me and Russell love is the 50s and 60s, we both absolutely love the fashion from that period and just the sense of style that emanated at that time. I used to say that in the beginning of our relationship when Russell was courting me it felt like we were in an Audrey Hepburn movie. We really wanted to try to capture this and give our engagement photos a real vintagey look. Luckily our amazing photographer Sarah from The Salty Sea Blog is incredibly talented and managed to capture exactly what we wanted. 
These photos are even better than I ever could have imagined and I am so pleased with them. We are definitely going to cherish these for years to come and I look forward to one day being able to look back and show our children our time together in Oxford. Sarah was so amazing on the day and made us feel so at ease even though we were incredibly nervous and embarrassed at the beginning. If you’re looking for a photographer I would highly recommend her and I am so excited to see the photos she takes of our wedding! 

What I Wore…
Dress – Lindy Bop | Shoes – George | Bag – Vintage | Coat – Primark
Sarahs Blog -http://thesaltyseablog.blogspot.co.uk/
Autumn, Fashion, Food, Slow Living, Style, Travel

The Best Autumn Day

Oh Autumn I cannot get enough of you! I know some people can’t wait for summer, for bare legs, bonfires, beach trips and sun kissed skin but for me there is no better season than autumn. I spend the summer months waiting in anticipation as autumn creeps closer and closer. Although I was watching very careful autumn in Oxford definitely suddenly appeared. It seemed one day it was beautiful September sunshine warm enough for ice cream and sandals, and then over night the temperature dropped by 10 degrees and the bright orange and mustard colours began to appear in every tree. It seemed autumn was especially prevalent in Hereford last weekend when we went up to do wedmin, and I couldn’t contain my excitement. We had decided to spend Friday and Saturday inside doing wedding jobs and then take a day off to enjoy the season outside on the Sunday. Luckily we were blessed with the most amazing weather, my absolute favourite type – bright blue skies, cold crisp air and low golden sunshine. It was glorious.

We decided to go back to one of our favourite spots to go walking in Hereford, the Brockhampton Estate and were extremely excited (well as least I was, not sure about Russell) to find out it was apple day! The National Trust definitely put on some of the best events and this was one of them. We enjoyed wandering around the house where we tried spiced mulled apple juice and sat in the 1950s sitting room – my outfit that day definitely blended into the surroundings. I’m wearing my lovely new dress from Lindy Bop that I got in the sale, I wanted some clothes in more autumnal colours and this definitely fitted the bill. We then wandered through the court yard where the cider pressing had been going on and got a good whiff of apple. After having a look around the shop we went in to the orchards and spent the best part of an hour jumping around trying to grab the shiniest juiciest apple on each tree. I have never actually been apple picking before so it was a new experience for me and I absolutely loved it. We decided to get one of each variety we thought looked the nicest including a massive apple almost the size of my head.

After carrying our apples back to the car we went to the lovely little tea rooms in the old apple store, we decided to continue our theme and bought a cider for Russell and an apple juice for me with a scone to share. By the time we’d finished it was almost five o’clock and the sun was beginning to descend and glow golden over the fields. We enjoyed a walk around the grounds and even stumbled across a private Georgian mansion which I decided must be Netherfield Park (I really wanted to knock on the front door and ask for Mr Bingley).

To end our day we piled back into the car, turned the heating on and drove part of the way back to Oxford stopping in the Cotswolds for the most amazing meal at Bitter and Twisted in Chipping Norton. I love living so close to the Cotswolds, everything was lit up with beautiful fairy lights and for the first time this year it started to feel really Christmassy.

What I Wore…
Dress – Lindy Bop | Cardigan – M&S | Shoes – New Look
Autumn, Fashion, Style, Travel

Stow on the Wold

I recently started a new job that I absolutely love, I get to spend my days singing, dancing, crafting, baking and playing games with elderly people. Its the best job I’ve ever had being an activities assistant in a care home and it might sound like a total doddle doing all the things I love all day but it can be very hard waring emotionally, physically and mentally. When you’re working with people with dementia you have to be constantly switched on and, although when I get home I feel very satisfied and happy with what I’ve achieved that day, I am tired. In previous jobs I have gotten so excited by all the new things I’ve been learning, I’ve totally thrown myself in and come home brimming with ideas that I then start to research which has led to me completely over whelming myself. Having lived with anxiety now for over a year, I have become wary of giving myself too much and am a lot more aware of chill out time. I have approached this job cautiously and as much as I love it and like talking about my day with people I have managed to leave my work at the door when I leave. This is quite a big achievement for me and I am hoping this is my mindfulness, something I’ve been really working on, finally coming into play. 
I have also had to be careful that once work is done and dusted all my spare time isn’t taken up with wedding stuff. A lot of people when we started planning our wedding gave us the advice to make sure we take time out and remember all the reasons we want to get married and it was honestly the best advice we got. When you’re getting married your whole life can become about the wedding and for me and Russell that’s really not what it is about. We are so much more excited for the marriage and often find ourselves feeling guilty for prioritising time together doing other things rather than wedding planning. But I think it is definitely really important the closer we get that we take more time out together and that is exactly what we decided to do the other weekend. 
Living in Oxford means we are close enough to visit so many places for the day including London, multiple amazing National Trusts and of course the beautiful Cotswolds. We definitely haven’t made the most of living so close to the Cotswolds and one of our plans for the new year once we are married is to try and get out there more. This time around we decided to visit Stow on the Wold for the day, I have never been however as soon as we arrived Russell recognised it as the place he’d visited with his family a while ago. Unfortunately being a Saturday it was quite full with tourists (we prefer to go at quieter times or just avoid the tourist places in general) but that didn’t stop us from having a love day out. 
We started off by having a delicious meal at the White Hart, a very quaint Cotswolds pub and hotel with lovely old beams and squishy leather chairs. We then set off around the town, we dipped into small book shops, little gift shops and because I had stupidly misread the weather we ended up rooting around in the charity shop for a cardigan. I found these super cute little black jumper that was originally M&S but was now only £4.50. I used to be very into finding a bargain in a charity shop but in later years haven’t been so much, this trip definitely rekindled my love for rooting around for those little gems.  

We had a really lovely day out and it was exactly what we needed to take out minds off wedding stuff for a little while. 
What I Wore…
Dress – Cath Kidston | Jumper – M&S (Charity Shop) | Shoes – Primark | Bag – Old | Sunglasses – Tribe

Autumn, Fashion, Outdoors, Scotland, Sea, Style

Tentsmuir Beach

Wow these photos seem a life away and really these were only taken a few weeks ago. We took them on the last day of our Scottish holiday, I kind of knew that once we got back to Oxford things would get very busy and so I made a conscious effort to try to enjoy this time of relaxation. I definitely wasn’t wrong, the closer we get to the wedding the more and more I find all my spare time wrapped up in planning. Which would be fine if I hadn’t also had a new job starting, an evening course, a very ill family member and no where to live. Thankfully life its starting to settle down and although I still feel pulled in many directions I feel i am able to cope more. Its been hard not having the time to blog or write or just spend some time doing the things I love to do. I am trying to make time for the stuff I love amongst the wedding planning but the feelings of guilt and like I should be doing something “useful” often stop me from relaxing. 
I wish we lived by the sea, I find water so calming and just hearing the waves roll onto the shore and watching the foamy white sea bubble as its pulled in and out seems to just take a weight off my shoulders. I think we definitely need to make more of an effort to get down to the Thames more often, water seems to possess magical relaxing properties. These photos were taken at Tentsmuir forest beach in Fife, the forest is really beautiful and I love that it is right next to the beach so you can get a bit of both in your walk. I am greedy like that. 
I find myself with a weird mix of excitement and trepidation of the next few months. I can’t wait to get closer to the day I get to marry the love of my life but I am also well aware of all it entails. As much as for me it is all about marrying Russell and really I don’t care about much else than that I’m also aware that this wedding means a lot to other people. I find myself doing all these jobs less for me and Russell but more for the people who have spent a lot of time and effort bringing this lovely day together. I am very thankful to God that he has blessed us in so many ways with a wonderful family, loving friends and a chance to celebrate our wedding in such an amazing way. 

What I Wore…
Top – Joules | Jeans – New Look | Wellies – Hunters

Lifestyle, Outdoors, Scotland, Summer, Travel

For Nature Made Her What She Is

It feels so amazing to be back in Scotland! I cannot tell you how excited passing the Welcome to Scotland sign on the motor way makes me. I’m not sure why but this is just where me and Russell feel most at home and once here its like we start getting back to being ourselves again. I think it probably has something to do with being back in the countryside, neither of us are really city people and so getting back to nature is definitely something we relish. I also love how the changing of the seasons is so much more apparent here, there is no mistaking it is September, you only have to look at the plum tree practically falling over with fruit to see that harvest time is well and truly here. 
These photos were taken in the village where Russell’s parents live. It is one of my favourite places in the world due to its quiet calmness and extraordinary scenery. I feel so blessed to be able to come and stay here, we are surrounded by woods, beach and fields meaning we can pretty much take our pick for doggy walks. The sunshine was incredibly beautiful on this day and we decided to go down to the beach to enjoy bask in its warmth. 
I really can’t wait till we get to move to Scotland, this is definitely my souls happy place. 

What I Wore…
Top – Red Herring | Jacket – Fatface | Jeans – New Look | Wellies – Hunters
Fashion, History, Style, Summer

Brockhampton

The days are getting shorter, the weather colder and the leaves are starting to turn, my favourite season is definitely on its way. I am so excited for wellies, hot chocs with whipped cream and kicking leaves but we still getting the odd summer day as you often do in September and I have to remind myself to get my legs out and enjoy it whilst it lasts. September is a gorgeous month with golden sunsets, bountiful harvests and an air of excitement as the seasons change and we get closer to that special day in December. I’ve really enjoyed being on holiday these first few weeks of September watching the seasons change and soaking up the last few rays of sunshine.

These photos were taken on a very golden 1st of September in the beautiful grounds of The Brockhampton Estate. Owning National Trust membership me and Russell often find ourselves here when in Hereford as its only down the road and a lovely place to go for a walk. Last time we came it was quite a lot wetter than expected (we got totally soaked through in the woods) so it was nice to see it bathed in golden autumnal light. We arrived late afternoon and enjoyed soaking up a bit of warmth in the gardens. We both felt it reminded us of a fairytale cottage where you might find the sorcerer and his apprentice. I quickly made plans to come back another time with a suitably fairytale dress to take some magical photos.

We really enjoyed our little week away in Hereford, it was a really lovely chance to just catch back up with each other and relax just the two of us before the craziness of the next 4 months ensues. I am so excited that our wedding is in 4 months but this holiday definitely feels like the calm before the storm. I am just going to keep reminding myself to enjoy this time and be present in every moment.

What I Wore…
Dress – Cath Kidston
Food, Green, Lifestyle, Outdoors

Foraged Jam | A Recipe

One of the things I wanted to do whilst on holiday was to cook and bake some things I’ve been meaning to try for a while but just haven’t  had chance. Jam is one of those things I’ve always fancied making but just never got round to, so when I saw a ridiculous amount of blackberries just going spare on the side of the road in the village we now live in I decided foraged fruit jam was much more fun than just buying the fruit. I love this time of year when all the fruit trees are perfect for picking and you can often find your local park becomes a haven for foraged fruit and blackberries are definitely a favourite.

Having never made jam before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it was actually very easy and tasted pretty good if I do say so myself. Of course the only way to serve it was on a homemade scone with a massive dollop of clotted cream, what can I say, I’m very British at heart.

Ingredients:
Foraged black berries or any fruit you like
The same weight of caster sugar as fruit
A squeeze of lemon.

Recipe:

1. Put all your fruit in a pan on the heat with a squeeze of lemon and a splash of water, just enough to stop the fruit sticking. Leave the fruit to simmer until the fruit has stewed, I liked leaving a few lumps in as I like a bit of fruit in my jam.

2. Once the fruit has reduced down add your sugar and stir until dissolved. Once dissolved heat the jam up to 105 degrees. Once hot take off the heat, leave to cool a little then put it into a clean jar.

3. Leave the jam to cool completely and enjoy the satisfying pop of the lid when you open it.

Enjoy!

Fashion, Style, Summer

Summer Holiday

August has been busy! I feel slightly like a headless chicken running around, moving house, planning our wedding and trying to start a new job. Its been a good month but also for some one with anxiety, dealing with a lot of things all at once isn’t the best. Luckily I was clever enough to book myself some holiday time at the end of the summer before the madness of Autumn begins. We have taken two weeks off in total and spent one in Hereford and one in Scotland. Its been really great to get a bit of chill out time just the two of us and catch our breath after the business of the last two weeks of August.

Some of you may remember I left my job in June and took a massive leap into the dark, spending the summer the writing has been amazing but I am also quite relieved to start a new part of my life. I will be starting a job later on in September as well as a part time course in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford which is very exciting. I honestly didn’t know what a summer of writing would mean for me or what God would do but it has certainly been a learning curve and something I’ve really enjoyed. I’ve also found that staying around in Oxford during the summer has been quite good for me as I’ve discovered a way of enjoying my time here. I’ve mentioned in previous posts about my struggle with living in the city in the South and so we have decided to move out to a village outside of Oxford which is quieter and suits us better. I’m hoping this will help me to learn to love Oxford and not be always pining for the wild countryside of the north.

We took these photos just before going out for dinner and it was then that it really felt like a holiday, the air was warm from the last few rays of golden sun and we both had that satisfied feeling of having relaxed all day. These few weeks off have definitely been needed not just to catch up with each other but also to catch up with myself and spend some time feeling like me again. I’m excited for the next few months but for now I am just enjoying the last few days of summer.

What I Wore…
Top – Fatface | Skirt – Asos | Sandals – Old