A Year at Work

On November 2nd I celebrated (sort of) a year in my job. I know it probably isn't much, but it felt like a massive milestone for me. Since then I have really enjoyed being able to say "this time last year it was like this" and having this sense of achievement and pride.

One of the scariest things when I separated from my husband was returning to work. I had been a housewife for 6 and a half years.
It scared me having to juggle motherhood with a job. Adult interaction which I had lost out on for those last years. How on earth would I talk to people about anything other than my children?!
What would people think of me?
I've always been the type of person who worries about what others think of her and at this point it was worse than ever.
I was on this transition from a married housewife to a single woman, with two children, who didn't really have a clue who I was, who I was becoming or how I should be.

I applied for a few jobs. I wasn't incredibly excited about this one but went anyway. I knew the store from shopping in there when we converted our garage and had worked in retail before so it couldn't be that bad surely?!

I turned up to the interview late. The manager had already decided I didn't have the job. In fact the positions had already been filled and there was no job for me anyway.
But we got on really well. We spend 50 minutes of the 55 minute interview laughing and joking and not taking anything at all seriously. If anything, I was grateful for that time and happy to have had a chance to smile and be myself whether or not I got the job.

Then two days later, a phone call came explaining that there was no job however, because he liked me so much and wanted to work with me he had created a job for me.
I cried.
I was late for my first day, I was late for my second day. He saw my ugly cry face on the second day, but he still gave me a chance.

After a week or two my role changed and I became a showroom assistant and I fell in love with my job.
Adult interaction was my main role and oh how I embraced it.

There have been ups and downs. But I wouldn't change it.

I look back on this scared woman I was last year and am so grateful someone saw the good in me, enough to create a job that didn't exist to give me a chance.
The friendships I've made are a massive bonus.
People I didn't expect to be friends with have now become my best friends. People I think I am too good for ask me out for a drink and it overwhelms me.

We had our works Christmas night out the week before Christmas. As we were on the minibus I looked around and said to the colleague behind me..."Look at how happy we all are. We are such an amazing bunch".
And the whole night, we were all happy. We all hugged, had kisses and enjoyed each others company.
Not one person was left out. Not one person didn't belong.
And I love that. I am proud of that.
I am proud to work somewhere like that and to feel part of a team like that.

I can be myself around them all. At first it was a shock to some and didn't go down so well, but after a week of being quiet they wanted "The old Lauren back" and I'd like to think I bring something to the team.
If I am having a bad day and need to talk I know that when I go to work there will be someone who listens.
If I need a hug there is always someone around.

They've been there for me through a tough year. Probably know way too much about me and my boundaries are non existent but I wouldn't have it any other way.

A year at work...a year I was dreading but a year that made my life so much easier.

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Dear 2016...Part Two

In January, the 13th to be exact, I wrote a post. "Dear 2016".

I've been struggling a bit recently, not feeling like I have got anywhere. Feeling like a bit of a failure. Like life is almost at a standstill I suppose. I am doubting myself, and my abilities massively at the moment.
Doubting myself as a person.
And I need a boost.

I wanted to look back on that post and to look back at the year I guess to look at how far I have come but also, to look at where I can improve and what I can do to make next year better.

It's been a big year. We sold our family home, I moved into a rented house which has had it's ups and downs. And we got divorced. It happened and that's that really. 
I've learnt a lot about being independent. I have learnt a lot about how disorganised I am and how shocking I am at having a routine. 

The boys have amazed me and have made me so proud. Although I think it has been easier with them being younger so they don't quite understand the emotional aspect of divorce, they do have a lot of toing and froing between our houses and I think they must feel unsettled. But overall, they have been amazing. 

I've had some pretty amazing adventures and really made the most of this freedom I have. I've been able to fit in some quality time with my brother and he is a big part of my memories from this year.
The best part about these adventures is realising how brave I can be and how breaking past that shy girl I once was is helping me to grow into the person I am now. I know that I can do more and I can only get better and that the way around that is to push my boundaries.

Work has had it's ups and downs and I am feeling more unsettled than anything at the moment, which I don't like. I always adored my job and I don't like the feeling that I'm disconnected from it at the moment. 

The main part of my Dear 2016 post was my wish to meet William Dunlop. And that wish came true. It was one of the happiest moments of my year, especially not long after meeting his brother Michael! I didn't manage to ride off into the sunset with either of them, however I have next year for that.
The TT again was a big part of my year and I think/hope it will be for many years to come. 
It even became part of a trip to Ireland with my brother as we visited the Memorial Garden for Michael and Williams dad and Uncle. Also visiting the bar run by their family, 'Joey's Bar'. 
I never thought I would be going on holidays which involved motorbikes and road racing but I did and it was incredible.  
I signed my last post with

Let me feel like I have survived.
I feel like I have survived. But I do feel like I have been in a fight. It has been tougher than I expected in some ways, and I have let myself down a lot. I haven't taken care of myself and although I am trying not to put pressure on myself for that, as I think I have valid reasons for where I have let myself down, I know that I can fix them and I have to be kind to myself.

Life was never going to be perfect this year but I made it through. And for that I am really proud.


Unexpected Escape

If you'd told me two years ago that my life would be the way it is now I'm not sure I would have believed you.
Two years ago I was this mumsy type, I liked it and it was who I was back then.
My main joys in life were Joules, Cath Kidston, watching Kirstie Allsopp.
I spent Christmas with my husband and my children. I planned the breakfast, dinner, the Boxing Day meals, the families gifts and when we would see everyone else.

And now, it is different, and I like it.

I've come a long way in the last two years. Becoming a different person, someone who I actually quite like despite the fact I am not yet used to being her. I don't always recognise myself and it's scary but it's also exciting.
I put a lot a pressure on who I am, who I should be and I struggle because of that. But I know that it's part of the process, and just the kind of person I am.
This Christmas my mum went to stay with my brother in Somerset. It meant that Christmas Day was spent with me and the boys before they went to their dads in the afternoon and then I was by myself. It brought me comfort knowing my mum was spending Christmas with my brother, and with her sister and brother in law.
But it was hard, not because I was by myself because I actually quite like my own company. I still love the novelty of having my own bed and spend far too much time in my bed than on my sofa!
It's hard because of the memories I have of the last Christmas we had as a family. Of the argument that ended Christmas day and Christmas evening on a low. An argument which resulted in Boxing Day starting in tears and with massive panic attacks. Spending the rest of the day feeling unsettled.
It was the start of where we are now.

I try to block it out but it's hard. And I realised that I have this unexpected escape. Unexpected distraction.
I am obsessed (to an extent) with the TT and with the Dunlops. The run up to Christmas and over the Christmas period the TT, motorbikes and road racing seem to have given me a much needed comfort and escape from everything.
Watching Road, watching my video from the TT this year, watching a programme about Ian Hutchinson on Christmas Day instead of the typical Christmas Day programmes and films I usually couldn't miss.
Listening to the Road soundtrack, and turning it up as loud as I can so I can feel it.

I never knew and never would have imagined that motorbikes, the TT, and The Dunlops would mean so much to me anyway, let alone be such a comfort to me when times are hard and when I have no idea with how to cope with my thoughts and my feelings.

When I went to the TT I didn't expect it to affect me so much. It really changed my life in so many ways. Ways I could never explain and ways which people don't understand....that even I struggle to understand.
It was the beginning of me, of the person I am now and the person I am becoming.

It doesn't just become a hobby or something you are into. You feel it in your heart, as a bike races past it pounds into your heart, into your blood, into your head. It becomes part of you. 

I'll never feel that freedom of jumping on a bike and riding to clear my head or to feel escape. But listening to them, watching them, is as close as I can get.



Kilmainham Gaol | Ireland 2016

When I visited Ireland back in September my brother had a list of things for us to do.
Our original plan was to travel up to Ballymoney in Northern Ireland and on the last day to travel back to Dublin to get to the airport.
We changed our plans in the end and found ourselves with spare time in Dublin on the last day. We looked to see what was around and decided to visit the first prison my brother had talked about when we landed.

Unlike Crumlin Road Gaol you have to book your tour slot for Kilmainham Gaol. We managed to book tickets on my phone as we drove into Dublin which was a good thing as it was really busy when we got there and we were told that all tours were full.

We were both surprised at how different this prison was to Crumlin Road. Everything was different, which I guess was nice because if not it wouldn't have been worth visiting two prisons in a couple of days.

Crumlin Road was a very bleak, dark and sad. The stories of prisoners didn't make you feel sad or feel sorry for them. Or feel any kind of pity.
Whereas Kilmainham Gaol was the opposite. It didn't feel as dark, and although the stories were sad, they were powerful because the prisoners were those who were standing up for what they believed in. Standing up for their religion, their community rather than just being criminals. It felt like there was, and still is, a respect for those prisoners. This is purely down to the tour focus, as a county gaol, Kilmainham held thousands of ordinary men, women and children. With crimes ranging from petty offences such as stealing food to more serious crimes such as murder or rape. Convicts from many parts of Ireland were held here waiting to be transported to Australia.

Although the prison is beautiful inside I think we both preferred Crumlin Road Gaol mainly due to the small tour sizes. We had enough freedom to take our time walking around and didn't constantly feel we had to keep up.
However, would I visit here again? I definitely would and highly recommend it as a day out for anyone touring Ireland.



Dark Sandalwood & Mint. A Unique Wooden Accessory

Growing up don't we all have this list of things we want to own when we are adults. A picture of the kind of house we will live in, car we will drive, family we will have, what pets we want and so on.
And then as we get older and we lust after other things. Handbags, diamonds, dresses, shoes. We will have that list of "one day I will own a.....".

Three years ago, when we bought our 1930's wooden yacht I also discovered Jord Watches. I guess I had a new appreciation over anything made from wood. The workmanship, the different grains and colours, how natural it is. 
I always imagined being sat on the boat, admiring her craft and style, and looking at a beautiful wooden watch on my wrist, also admiring it's craft and style. 
Unfortunately, hints went unnoticed, divorce happened and I knew that image of a wooden boat and a wooden watch would never be. 
However, it didn't stop my lust and my hope for that wooden watch.

Since my divorce I have changed a lot. Not just mentally but my image has too. I dress differently. I'm a lot more confident about myself, what I wear, and I guess I'm not as girly as I once was. Dresses and skirts are my staple outfit, only now they are worn with a Michael Dunlop or Isle of Man TT hoodie. 
And, I have a right arm that is slowly becoming covered in tattoo's. 

I'm picky when it comes to accessories. I wear my watch on my left arm, after being told for years that wearing it on my right arm was wrong. I wear a rose gold ring on that hand so a watch has to match that. 
My tattoos limit me somewhat to the jewellery I choose to wear on my right arm. But I'm ok with that. My tattoos are my own unique accessories. And I think the theme of my accessories are just that....unique. 
I have two rings which are pearls from Tenerife, a square Sapphire and the rose gold ring which was the wedding ring for my Great Grandmother, and has a tiny section of yellow gold where it had to be adjusted. My necklace is a white gold cross, along with a charm of the Isle of Man TT circuit...again, that mismatch of girly along with a masculine side too.

And then, a couple of months ago my lusting for a wooden watch stopped as I finally got my wish of owning one. I was lucky enough to be sent a Frankie 35 Series Dark Sandalwood and Mint watch. Oh my goodness, when I saw the image on the website I thought it was beautiful but when it arrived, in a beautiful wooden box with a lid that you simply slide to reveal your chosen timepiece I was delighted.
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Sliding off the lid I didn't think the watch would amaze me as much as it did. The mint face against the dark sandalwood is such a beautiful contrast and also gives the watch that mixture of feminine/masculine.

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You can get the watch sent to you already adjusted to fit your wrist. You simply let them know your wrist measurement and the watch arrived in that size. Mine was a little too big still so I got 2 more links taken out which was easy enough to do and only cost £5 from a local shop.
I couldn't wait to wear the watch and to show it off to everyone. I noticed one thing from people admiring the watch, they all wanted to touch it, for me to take it off so they could look closely at the the way it was made and put together. And also because they didn't believe it was really made of wood.

I love how this watch can be styled with any outfit. It looks smart enough for me to wear to work, or for a meal out, but works equally as well with an everyday casual outfit.

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Also, is there nothing better than noticing your new watch matches your favourite new boots?

This post is sponsored by JORD Wood Watches.


You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but, you do have a say in who hurts you.

I can't be the only one who, as it gets to the end of the year, reflects on the year just past.
This year has been eventful. Physically and mentally draining with a lot of ups and a lot of downs.

There are certain areas I can look back on and feel completely comfortable with which I wouldn't change.
Then there are areas I would change.
And most of those are to do with how I have treated myself, my feelings more than anything.
Despite trying to avoid it, I caved and watched 'The Fault in our Stars'. I don't usually like "chick flicks" and thought I'd put it on in the background whilst doing things on my laptop/phone. But I found that soon enough I was totally engrossed in the film and towards the end there were particular lines that made me wake up I guess and to listen, because they made sense to me.

I am, and always have been, very open with my feelings. Something I'm not ashamed of and have never been ashamed of. I am one of those people who doesn't want to skirt around certain topics or issues. Life is too short and if I feel something, I'd rather someone knows. And similarly, if I don't feel something, I'd rather someone knows too.

I'm fine with that. I'm fine with how I am. However, being like that obviously leaves you open for people to take advantage, and that leads to hurt.

I've changed a lot over the last year, due to how I have been treated and due to experiences, and I feel it has made me stronger and has made me more aware of other peoples actions.
But, I've also left myself open far too much to be hurt and have wasted tears over people who are probably not worth it.

"You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but, you do have a say in who hurts you". 

For 2017 I will remember this line. I will drum it into my brain until I learn from it and learn to protect my feelings, my head and more importantly, my heart.



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The Best of 2016: Food Delivery Apps

The possibilities are endless when it comes to what your smartphone can do these days: You can order a cab, create music, write a paper, and crush candies. Perhaps one of the best – and hunger satisfying – things you can do with your smartphone is to download a food delivery app. The next time hunger strikes, I’ll be looking to my phone to do the dirty work for me. Here are my favourite food delivery apps of this year, and what makes them amazing.

1- UberEats

If you haven’t heard already, Uber is the game-changing cab company, which allows the general public to become a taxi for several hours a day utilising their own vehicle. After this service made headlines, Uber expanded its market into the food delivery industry, therefore birthing UberEats. Although it is still fresh to the UK and is currently based solely in London, UberEats delivers from 150 restaurants and within a 30-minute radius from your current location. This allows UberEats to guarantee hot meals.

2 – One Delivery

For the avid fast-foodie, One Delivery associates with popular fast-food restaurants such as McDonalds and KFC. With over 500 restaurants to cater to your current craving, One Delivery will work its delivery magic in getting your cheat meal to you quickly.

3 – Hungry House

Wherever you are in the UK, chances are Hungry House will be able to get to you in a flash. With over 10,000 restaurants in their database, you won’t have to worry about ordering the same boring meal because it’s the only option available. Hungry House is known for its diversity in menu options, and is extremely popular for Chinese and Indian food options. The app has an easy to navigate interface, and satisfies the entire point of getting food ordered and into your stomach as soon as possible.

4 – Deliveroo

If you are looking for an app that has a light sense of humour, Deliveroo has you covered. This quirky company offers delivery of many different food items all over the UK. From breakfast, to beer, to dessert – Deliveroo fits the bill at any time of day. The app categorises your meals for you, allowing you to quickly get to what you are craving.



Crumlin Road Gaol | Ireland 2016

When we went to Ireland in September I left the planning of everything up to my brother. He always does such a good job of planning a fab week when I go to the Isle of Man so I trust him to come up with good things to do.
He mentioned us visiting an old prison and I loved the idea. Early in the week our plan went a little wrong...well not wrong as such but we ended up driving further than we thought we could so it became our plan to visit towards the end of the week instead.
I was oddly really excited about visiting the prison. I guess it added to the other slightly morbid plans of the week which involved the Titanic museum, a pub run by the family of Joey Dunlop who died whilst racing and a memorial garden.
I ended up saying to my brother that I didn't mind what we did, as long as we managed to visit the prison.

That day came and as we pulled up in the car park I was amazed by how beautiful the prison was from the outside. It didn't look run down so you could see that although it isn't open as a prison anymore, it is still looked after. The prison dates back to 1845 and closed it's doors as a working prison in 1996.
It is now used as a visitor attraction and conference centre. The prison offers a guided tour where you can hear about the history of the site, learn about the political segregation of republican and loyalist prisoners, when women and children were held at the prison, and why the prison was closed.

One of the most interesting places we visited was the underground tunnel that used to connect the Crumlin Road Gaol to the Crumlin Road Courthouse. It was interesting to hear about the process of getting the prisoners through the tunnel and avoiding the Republicans and Loyalists from meeting...which happened quite often.

We also visited the condemned mans cell which made me feel so confused. I did find myself quite emotional but I was able to hold it in, until we were then shown the execution cell where the majority of the 17 men were hanged.
1863 – The execution of Daniel Ward, 8th April.
1876 – The execution of John Daly, April 27th.
1889 – The execution of Arthur McKeown, 14th January.
1901 – The execution of William Woods, 1st November. A new stone execution chamber was used for the first time in C Wing.
1909 – The execution of Richard Justin, 19th August.
1922 – The execution of Simon McGeown, 17th August.
1922 – The execution of Michael J Pratley, 8th May.
1928 – The execution of William Smiley, 8th August.
1930 – The execution of Samuel Cushnahan, 8th April.
1931 – The execution of Thomas Dornan, 31st July.
1932 – The execution of Eddie Cullins, 3rd March.
1933 – The execution of Harold Courtney, 7th April.
1942 – The execution of Thomas Joseph Williams, 2nd September.
1961 – The execution of Samuel McLaughlin, 25th July.
1961 – Last execution: Robert McGladdery, 20th December. He was found guilty of the murder of Pearl Gamble near Newry in Co Down.
1854 – First execution. Robert Henry O’Neill, soldier, 21st June. His body and 14 others, are still interred in unmarked graves within the grounds of the Gaol.

It was a strange feeling. As we saw the rope I felt my eyes fill with tears and goosebumps covered my body. As everyone else walked downstairs, to where they would place the body in a coffin, I stayed by the rope and took a few moments to let those feelings take over.
Although maybe these men deserved to be executed there is always that possibility that they were actually guilty and falsly accused. Plus, I believe in spirits remaining in certain places and so on and I guess this was the kind of place that I can imagine being full of spirits.

I went downstairs and joined the others, thinking I wouldn't cry again, until the tour guide told us about children getting whipped. Having to face away and not see who it was who was whipping them.
A 10 year old boy committed suicide because he couldn't face being whipped. At that point heavy tears filled my eyes and fell down my face.
I pictured my children and although they wouldn't (hopefully!!) ever do anything that would have caused them to be whipped or be in prison at all it's hard to hear anything about children and to not picture your own.
I think the guide saw that I was upset and he swiftly took all 8 of us up the stairs and outside.
After a short walk around the tour came to an end.

It was such a fantastic experience and somewhere I would recommend everyone to visit. I would definitely visit again.
If not just to listen to the Northern Irish accent from our amazing tour guide.



Castletown #TT2015

I know right, surely the hashtag on this title is wrong? Surely that should say 2016?
Well no. Little Miss Lazy Pants here just became so overwhelmed with life last year that I didn't get round to posting about all the beautiful places we went.
One of my total favourites, and one we didn't manage to visit again this year, was Castletown.

Jumping on the back of my brothers bike I always put my trust in him to take us somewhere cool. He has this fantastic knowledge of the island and never wants to waste a day. We'll pull up somewhere, I'll pause and say "Off?" and he'll park the bike up and we discover wherever it is we just landed.
Castletown was one of those places. I immediately fell in love with the quayside/dock area. It was kind of eerie as it was so quiet and almost felt deserted.

We went for a short walk by the water, walking around the corner by some cute cottages and then towards the sea wall.
Being the wimp that I am I couldn't get onto the sea wall, however, my brother could and I will always love the photos I took of him up there.
We stood/sat for a while, just watching the sea roll in and crash against the rocks. All that was missing was a pint (and one/both of the Dunlop brothers) and it would have been even more perfect.


Just Ours

A couple of weeks ago I had a rare Saturday off work. As it was my weekend with the boys I decided to take them away to Woburn and after collecting them from after school club we finished packing the car, went to McDonalds for a quick and easy dinner and then headed off.
The boys have this weird excitement when it comes to Premier Inn so I booked us a cute one to stay in that was a short drive to Woburn Safari Park.

On the Saturday morning we got up and had breakfast at the adjoining pub. I've never stayed in a hotel just me and the boys before so going for breakfast and having to look over both of them was different, however they are at an age where they can be trusted and where I am giving them a bit more freedom to make their own choices and to have some independence. We'll excuse the teary moment when Harry went over to our waiter and asked his name, then said "I'm Harry. This is my brother, his name is Charles". The waiter held his hand out and they shook hands. I felt so proud of Harry's manners and confidence.
We had to pop to the Supermarket because I'd stupidly forgotten to bring socks and already had blisters from my boots, and we also picked up some bits for a picnic.

I was so excited to finally get to the Safari park. I still had happy memories of going there as a child and loved that I was creating similar memories for my own children. And I couldn't wait to drive around too.
I promised the boys the best experience in the monkey enclosure. They (well, Charles mostly) were worried about the monkeys damaging the car to which I replied "I don't care. It will be worth it". Damage can be fixed after all.

At one point we had 5 monkeys on the car, they helpfully kept picking the leaves out of my bonnet, saving me a job, and kept play fighting...or real fighting?!...and jumping over the window and roof.
The laughter and excitement from the boys made it totally worth it.

I do get a bit emotional at times like that. Sadness that we're not the family unit I thought we would be but also happiness that I am able to do this by myself. And that it was because of me (and the monkeys!) that they were sat there laughing and giggling and calling each others names so neither missed out.

At one point we sat in the monkey enclosure without moving for around 20 minutes. Cars drove round us. I didn't want to move the car and stop the laughter from the boys and ignored and moaning from other people wanting me to move on.
This was our moment, our experience and our day to create some special memories.

That night, just as the night before, we all snuggled in to the double bed, ignoring the single bed made up by the window, and talked about our best bits from the day.
And they both thanked me.
That made it worth it. The fact that they were thankful for the memories we had created and for that special time we spent together.
For those memories and that time that was just ours.




She sat on her bed, small goosebumps covering her body due to the slight chill in the air.
One cat stretched out in front of her, laying on her foot, purring away due to the content of being in her company. The other, sat at the bottom of the bed, curled up, asleep, but with his head raised as if he was still listening out so he didn't miss out on cuddles and strokes.
They are her company. It is them who stay by her side when the house is silent.

After a productive start to the morning of "getting shit done" she earned herself an hour long soak in the bath. One of those soaks where the water temperature starts to dip as if to say "your time is up", but instead you add hot water every now and then just to give yourself some extra time. 
On the bed, she put her head in her hands, and as she felt a drip on her arm she sat and wondered where that drip came from. Her eyes, or her freshly washed, but not yet dried, hair. 
More fell, a mixture of both warm tears and now cold wet hair.

Why was she crying? She didn't know.
Sometimes, it just happens. A build up of pressure, expectations, recent experience, current issues and future obstacles. And then it all explodes and these tears just appear before you have any control to stop them from falling.

"I'm crying again" she thought frustratingly to herself. She didn't see how she had any tears left. But at the same time she knew better than to shut them off and to deny them. So she let them fall, and within a few minutes they were clear, for now.
Her mind felt a little more empty, her eyes a little sore but washed clean from those warm tears, and as she gathered herself together to get ready for the day ahead she decided to not think about those tears again.
They were normal, part of her everyday life. But they didn't have to be seen as a negative thing, she told herself. These tears are created due to the fights and battles in her life, not all bad ones, but it all builds up. There's only so much room in her head and daily it seems like it is overflowing, more often than not on negative things, and tears release that.
They make her feel better.

They cleanse her mind.
They cleanse her eyes.
They make life a little easier.

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