SLIDER

My 2022 Recap

29 December 2022


2022, how has it been for you? For the best part my year has been steady. Some highs and lows, mostly centered around my mental health and anxiety. But with the support of my friends, family and work I managed to well, manage it! 

The tail end of 2022 is where it picked up speed. From leaving the comfort of the company I spent the last decade working at, to starting with another company (with a one day off gap!) in the search of new horizons (sorry I couldn't help get an Animal Crossing reference in there!). Throw Christmas into the mix and well it's been a busy time for me this December for sure.

One thing I will add with looking back over the last 12 months is how I didn't really travel far or take many opportunities to do things outside my local area. I did live in a bubble. Also my severe lack of socialising is very apparent. My aspirations for 2023 is to meet up with people more and do to more activities and experiences. Try and live my life a bit more fuller!

Anyway the best way I can recap my 2022 is to look back at the photo's on my phone and see what I got up to. So here's a round up of my highlights of the year...

January


This was a quiet start to the year. A mixture of working and on my days off enjoying crisp winter walks in the local area. I ventured around the historic town of Arundel, walked along the stony beach of Worthing and along the tranquil path along Chichester canal. Looking back the month seemed quite dry so that made for good outdoor walks. These walks were made with Dan so that was lovely to do after the busyness of Christmas the previous month.

February


This was the month I joined TikTok (and subsequently left a few months later- it just can't get onboard- maybe it's an age thing?!). Played the Animal Crossing Happy Home Paradise download (it did take me 6 months to complete in total, I dragged it out for as long as possible as I knew there would be no more new content after that). But the highlight of the month (and perhaps the year) was going to see both the Moulin Rouge inspired Come What May stage show and Moulin Rouge The Musical, both in the same week.

I have a blog post on the Moulin Rouge performance I saw in London here...it will remain the best live performance I've ever seen (so much so I saw it again the following month). Dan and myself also stayed in Brighton later that week to see the show Come What May, a performance of songs and dances from Moulin Rouge and other inspired musicals. The rest of the month featured more local walks and enjoying Valentine's Day with Dan (yes I did put our pop up tent up in the front room for him as a cosy den on Valentine's Day).

March



The theme of walking around the local area continued with the budding of daffodils making an appearance, though I recall a walk to a newly created nature reserve in the local area and it being a clear but bitterly cold afternoon. My poor hands were stinging from the cold! 

A stand out moment of March was meeting Dan's half nieces for the first time. Dan had only the previous year found his half sister (same Dad, different Mums) and we arranged to meet his nieces at our fav local café/bistro Charley Harpers. Along with Dan's younger brother, I had a lovely time getting to know Dan's nieces and learn about a side of Dan's family that we never knew existed until a few month's earlier. 

The month ended with a trip to London to see Moulin Rouge The Musical (again) for an early birthday present from Dan to myself. This trip also included my mum and my sister which was wonderful as I can't recall the last time we went to London together for a day out. We had a meal at Planet Hollywood first (nearest place to the theatre we all agreed to eat at!), then went to see the show (well I say 'we'. I was feeling anxious and couldn't face going in to see the show-as much as I loved it- so I missed the first half and sat in a nearby Waterstones. I managed to convince myself to go in to see the second half- I'll add that my family were concerned about me, Dan came and sat with me in Waterstones, but I insisted that my mum and sister see the show. After the intermission I returned for the second half and I'm glad I did as I got swept up my the show again and really enjoyed it. My mum and my sister didn't know much about the storyline and they loved it!). This was followed by a hot chocolate in Starbucks to chat about the performance and then we had a look along Regent's Street, before heading back to get the train home. Despite my anxieties that day, I look back on the day fondly as it was lovely to spend that day with Dan, my mum and sister, all seeing a show I love.

April



This started with a wonderful meal at an local awarding winning Indian restaurant with colleagues from my then job at John Lewis. I had a lovely time and the food and service was just right (Masala City if you're interested). Not knowing it would be leaving my colleagues at the end of the year, I now look back and am grateful we had these get togethers outside of work as I cherish their friendship. 

April brought more walks, this time in more Spring time weather. One walk was to some local woodland near Arundel full of beautiful Bluebells carpeting the ground.

The month also brought some baking, visit to the seaside and a day out to Petworth House on my birthday. Looking back at the photo's from the day, I now remember how warm it was. We had a picnic on the grounds of the house and it was about 20 degrees if I recall correctly. Perfect Spring weather. 

I was spoilt with a Cricut (vinyl) cutting machine for my birthday from Dan which has given me another creative hobby to take up! Which I have since added to with a smaller Cricut machine and the two heat presses (it's not a cheap hobby let me tell you that for nothing!- I have scaled back my spending on I will add!).

May



May was a month for embracing the warmer weather by going to the beach for walks, going to the woods and generally making the most of the season by being outdoors. I can't recall anything of much interest from the month but sometimes it's nice to have time that is relaxed and easy going.

June


June featured a hair cut. I had a few inches cut off. I had been growing my hair long for well over a year up until that point, but it was dry and the ends were split. So despite my desire for long hair I got it cut. Refreshing to have my hair shorter and neater but I still miss my long hair! When I have long hair I want it short and when I have it short I want it long ;) This was a phase of me spending the next couple of months getting my hair cut again as I couldn't be satisfied with the style. By September I decided to let my hair grow out and see how long I can grow it before I get it cut again!

June was also Dan and myself 21 year anniversary of when we first started dating and also our 8 year wedding anniversary. Weirdly I can't remember what we did to celebrate. All I can recall is that Dan brought me a lovely bouquet of flowers that were being sold by Chichester Cathedral that were from the flower exhibition that they hold every year. We do make an effort to celebrate each others birthdays and special occasions like anniversaries. Any excuse to do something nice- not that an excuse is really needed, just be nice cos you can :)

The weather was continuing to be warm and bright, so more walks along the local beaches such as Littlehampton and Brighton and green areas remained.

A shopping trip to Southampton with my mum also featured which we both enjoyed. Growing up I never went on days out shopping with my mum as we didn't have the money to do so. So to be able to do it now is something I enjoy doing (not that we have lot's of money now- just we are in slightly better financial situations so we can have a day out like this). We had lunch in Bills and my mum had never visited West Quay shopping centre before so I enjoyed showing her around (she relishes my retail knowledge as I can advise her on good deals and promotions).

July



July was when the heat in the UK really ramped up. I don't like the heat. A warm and comfortable Summers day I can enjoy but a heatwave and 30 degree plus temps I can not. So don't ask me why but Dan and myself thought to go up to London when the temperature was around 30 degrees. The reason for the trip was to see where Dan's great Granddad several generations back lived in London. Dan had previously discovered there was some of his ancestors that lived in Bow Lane, London were quite well to do at the time. It is said if you live within the sound of the bells of St Mary le Bow Church you are true Cockney, so Dan has some Cockney blood in him! We then walked around the surrounding area and headed to Shoreditch and Spitalfields Market. Eventually the heat was getting to much and around 2pm we headed back home on the train. A lovely day out but just too hot for me! 

I also decided to try my hand an some painting with acrylics and watercolour paints. I love being creative and art is a hobby I enjoy. Whilst I'm no Picasso or Monet, I do like putting pain to paper and seeing what I can (or cannot) create!

August





August continued with the warm weather, but there was moments where it was more comfortable thankfully. A trip to Bournemouth was on the cards as Dan had booked tickets to see Derren Brown's latest stage show tour, The Showman. Dan and myself have been avid fans of Derren since discovering him through his tv series Trick of the Mind back in the early 2000's. Since then Dan has seen a show from from each of his tours (I think I had missed just one year at that point). Unfortunately though I made it to Bournemouth and to the hotel, my anxieties made a reappearance and I didn't feel comfortable in going to see the show. Dan went on his own (which I still feel bad about) and I stayed in the hotel room, with a KFC and watched tv. I will say Dan is very supportive with my mental health issues, for which I will always thank him for. Being autistic Dan doesn't like changes of plans, so I can only imagine how this makes him feel when I drop out last minute. We work hard to support each others needs as we care about each other. 

Dan said The Showman was an uplifting show that I would of enjoyed so I hope I might get the chance to see it for myself.

Another outing was to woods on the outskirts of Chichester for Dan's birthday. Dan loves being in nature and being outdoors and as such he had seen online the remains of an old church in some secluded woods nearby. My sister drove us and my mum to said location where we sat and had a picnic and a walk around the woods. Some people like busy and fast paced activities where Dan and myself like quiet and easy going environments, so the woods was just right for Dan's birthday to visit.

Throughout August I was also on the hunt for an outfit for Goodwood Revival as we had volunteered through my work (at the time John Lewis) to support their charity of the year, The Aldingbourne Trust. 

In exchange for our time there collecting for Goodwood's chosen charity we had free entry to the event. Being that I love vintage clothing and bygone eras this sounded like a wonderful opportunity. I scoured local charity shops, vintage shops and online sites to find a suitable outfit. At this point I hadn't committed to an outfit but looking for one was half the fun!

September


Septembers highlight was attending Goodwood Revival. For the initiated, this is a motor event centered around vintage cars that race around Goodwood motor circuit. Attendees are encouraged to dress in vintage clothing from the 1940s to the 1960s. There are many stalls selling vintage clothing and merchandise, old cars to see up close, car racing to watch, food stalls to buy from and many other events to participate in.

I've only been once before in 2014, so being it's only a 10 minute drive away from me, I don't know why I've not been more times! I had a lovely day, despite wearing heels all day (I'm not a heel wearer- Converse's and the like are my preference). After all my vintage clothes hunting I opted for a 1950's dress I had brought a few years earlier. I teamed this with a 1940's shrug I brought in a vintage shop in Portsmouth, a vintage handbag I brought for the event and vintage inspired heels from Collectif.

If I went again I think I'd opted for overalls/dungarees, hair scarf and flat shoes, Land Girl style. Much more comfortable!

October 


October was another quiet month of day trips out to local seaside towns and embracing the changing season from Summer to Autumn. Also baking cakes for the cosy, cooler afternoons. My highlight was seeing the many colours of Autumn on the trees. I used to not like Autumn that much. To me Summer had gone and Winter was on its way. But now I embrace the beautiful reds, oranges, ambers and greens of the trees in Autumn. I think Autumn is now one of my favourite months. The temperature is more comfortable, I like wearing sweaters and jumpers and being snuggly on the sofa of an afternoon.

November


Dan and myself are lovers of the festive period. We both enjoy the ambiance of the season. Cosy films, hot chocolates, snuggly blankets and the beginning of Christmas products filling the shops. Some people moan it's too early, whereas we love it! 

I love Christmas trees and it was Dan this year that put up our Christmas tree at the beginning of November. I then dressed it with all my cute and wonderful animal decorations. We love the Christmas trees being the only lights on when cosied up on the sofa of an evening. 

At the beginning of the month I attended a book event at Waterstones in Brighton. My favourite author, Lindsey Kelk had just published her latest book The Christmas Wish and was over from LA to do a book tour to promote it. Lindsey was joined by fellow author Holly Bourne, where they both chatted to an audience of about 30 about their book career and about their latest books. This was followed by a chance to have copies of their books I had purchased that evening signed by them. Both authors are lovely and I read The Christmas Wish in one day! It's a great story and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the romantic comedy genre. In fact I sent a copy to my good friend in London as I had to share it with others! 

The end of the month was my mum's 70th birthday were Dan, my sister, her good friend and my mums good friend and myself had a meal in the newly opened Ivy restaurant in Chichester. The décor is beautiful and we mused at the flowered covered ceiling in the ladies toilets! This was followed by going to see a play at Chichester Festival Theatre. The play's lead was supposed to be Caroline Quentin, but unfortunately she was unwell, so another actress stepped into the breach at the very last minute. The actress had to have a script with her on stage, so credit to her for doing this at such short notice. Whilst the play was well acted, it wasn't my cup of tea. I found it dragged in places but my mum enjoyed it and that was all that mattered.

Dan had decided to make my mum a birthday cake. Dan has made me cakes previously, all very tasty but he had never made a cake for one of my family. Being it was my mums 70th, I think Dan thought he would take the opportunity to see what he could create. Dan spent a good few hours creating a woodland themed chocolate sponge cake which not only looked very impressive, tasted delicious. It appeared to my mum it was the highlight of her birthday! Dan now has sent the bar of cake baking, as the cake was shared to friends and family who all praised Dan for how great it looked and tasted! Who knew Dan was a secret baker!

December


Up until writing this post, December has been a month of change and challenges. From leaving my job at John Lewis (I saw that Oliver Bonas was opening a shop in Chichester and thought it would be a great opportunity to work there as a change of scene and to try something new). It was sad to say goodbye to my colleagues and friends at JL as they were so sweet to me when they heard I was leaving and kept saying how they would miss me. To be honest I was overwhelmed by their kindness and heartfelt words. With only one day off between finishing one job and starting another, I fell feet first into a very, very busy Oliver Bonas and was on the tills pretty much straight away!

So who knows what 2023 will bring. I hope it brings goodness and rewarding opportunities. I would love to do something for myself that has some sort of success. I don't know what exactly. But I want something that I've created that I can feel proud of. And by that I mean work/career/hobby related. I'm a creative soul, so I'd be happy having the freedom to do what I'm passionate about and sharing it with others, much like this blog!

Thank you for reading this far! I wish you a wonderful and happy 2023!

Love Abbie xxx

Goodwood Revival- 20 Vintage fashion websites and shops

24 August 2022

Goodwood Revival Vintage Dress 1950s

Hello!

For those who have been following my blog previously, welcome back and for those who are new hello! 

What has inspired me to get back to my blog you may (or may not!) be thinking? Well, Goodwood Revival is fast approaching (September 16th-18th 2022) and I have been lucky enough to attend through my work. I shall be there to support a local charity (The Apuldram Centre has asked for volunteers) and by volunteering there I get to dress in vintage clothing :)


Goodwood Revival fashion centre's around the 1940's to 1960's and anyone going is encouraged to dress to embody those era's. I have only been twice, in 2014 and I loved being able to replicate a bygone era. There is also vintage cars and racing at Goodwood, but I'm there for the fashion (and to help a charity too). 

This year I have purchased a couple of dresses and I think I am going to opt for a vintage pink 1950's prom dress and I'm on the hunt for co-ordinating accessories. I've been in love with 50's prom dresses for years- so pretty and elegant- so a wonderful excuse to finally wear one.


I've been looking in local vintage shops and also online and I wanted to share where I have been scoping out. A disclaimer first though to say that I have not purchased from all the below places (would love to though!) so I can't speak from personal experience. The one's I have shopped with before and would personally recommend I shall put an * (asterisks) next to their name. These are not affiliate links or sponsored in any way. 

St Wilfrids Hospice Retro and Vintage Shop, Chichester*

Clobber, Bournemouth*

Preloved Kilo*

Beyond Retro*

Oxfam online shop*

Ebay*

Depop*

Snoopers Paradise, Brighton*

To Be Worn Again kilo sale, Worthing*

Facebook Marketplace

Rokit

Frockery

Bohemian Wonders

All About Audrey

Myvintage.uk

Top of  the Town vintage

Asos Marketplace

Etsy

Thrifted.com

Beatnik Emporium

Obviously this list could go on and on- a Google search will take you to many pages of small and more well known vintage sellers. If there are any sellers you recommend please do share below, I love finding new vintage finds!

Until next time, happy vintage shopping and remember September is #secondhandseptember

Abbie xxx

Seeing Moulin Rouge the musical in London

2 March 2022


WTF, it's been over a year since I graced my blog with my presence! My humble, sincere apologies my amigos. I will simply put it down to sheer lack of anything to write about, what with just making it through 2021 through a continuing global pandemic (even if BoJo seems to act like it's magically gone away).

So what brings me back to my blog you may be wondering (even if you are not, I'm gonna tell you anyway!). I'm always searching for a creative outlet, be it Instagram, vintage shopping and selling, baking, reading, playing Animal Crossing. Some of those outlets have become a bit tiresome (hello to you Instagram), so I thought I would try my hand at my blog again.

Now I don't know if blogs are still in vogue. I have a feeling they are not. I mean I can't tell you the last time I read a blog myself. But this is for me (and any one who happens to upon my blog) so I guess I thought I would go back to what I've always enjoyed doing; writing.

What I can share with you is my recent trip to London to see the West End show of my fav EVER film, Moulin Rouge. Back in 2018 I saw via social media that a stage show version of the film was in production in Boston and that if proved successful it would be taken to Broadway in New York. Joy upon joys it was received well enough to take it to the Big Apple. And after the success of this is was to be run in the West End, London in late 2021.

It was quite a wait for the ticket release date for the West End show to come (I think it must of been about 2 years), but on the morning of a dreary November day, Dan and myself were perched on the sofa, both at our laptops, sitting in a virtual queue with over four thousand other people ahead of us. After some patience, Dan made it to the ticket buying page before me and proceeded to book us each a ticket. We opted for a date in February the following year in the hope that Covid may of not been such a concern by then. Dan was lucky enough to score two tickets in the stalls in Row C (the third row from the front) for £90 a ticket each (I quote the price as if you were to book a ticket to any of the shows now it will set you back £180 each a ticket!). All we had to do was wait until February :)

Dan had booked for a matinee show so we could travel up to London and back in the same day. On the day the weather was dry if a bit of grey Winters day. The train up to London Victoria ran on time and we arrived in the capital around midday allowing us enough time to find the venue and have something to eat before the show. 

If you happen to know me, you will quickly learn I am overly sensitive to the worry of getting and being unwell (health anxiety is a thing), so I was concerned about travelling up to London in a pandemic and what that might be like. On the train we had space without anyone directly in front of us and walking through London was fine as it wasn't as busy as it could of been. Overall there was nothing that caused me much concern throughout the day which was a relief.


So back to London. Upon leaving Victoria Station we walked via Buckingham Palace, The Ritz and up to the the theatre. Once we found the theatre I suggested we walk through Oxford Circus and over to Leicester Square, where I knew there was various fast food outlets. I was surprised that all these famous landmarks we so close to each other, so it meant we didn't have to venture far from the theatre. After something to eat from MacDonalds in Leicester Square (we sat outside as the weather wasn't too cold), we wandered back to the theatre and joined what was a pretty long queue. We had our NHS Covid passports ready as they were briefly checked as we got to the front of the queue.

This would be my first time to a musical (I now feel like I have been missing out!) so I was curious to discover what it's like to be in the audience. The venue was the Piccadilly Theatre, which though not the largest of theatre's it helped create a more intimate atmosphere. As Moulin Rouge was the only show performing at this venue, they had customised not just the stage but all around the sides too (it did indeed remind me of the Moulin Rouge from the film). We found our seats near the front (perfect spot Dan!) and sat down. 


I knew I would be emotional and I did get a bit teary eyed as the musical began as I had been hyping this up in my mind for so long and I love the film so much. I don't want to give any spoilers but I will say that the set design, the cast, the choreography, the costumes, the hair and make up, the music (performed live) and everything in between was phenomenal. The cast was different from the cast from the Broadway version, with the actor playing Christian, being in his first ever West End show run after leaving RADA. Now my only previous experience of live music was to pop concerts where it is encouraged to get up and sing along to your favourite songs. A theatre is another matter. More a case of singing along to yourself (behind my face mask), whilst staying seated and keeping a level of decorum about myself. Too many times did I want to get up and join in with the big numbers! Though there is opportunity to get up out of your seat to join in near the end.  My favourite scene (without giving too much away) was the part where Christian is tormented by the knowledge of Satine spending the night with the Duke and El Tango De Roxanne (an amazing cover of Roxanne by The Police) plays. I could sense the passion and the emotion of Christian as his sings out 'why does my heart break? Feelings I can't hide'. I really focussed on that scene and got a bit emotional myself! (What a sap I am!). Suffice to say I enjoyed the performance so much that I want to go see it again (but minus the £180 price per ticket!). Ah well, I'm so thankful to Dan that I got to see it at all <3






After the show, it was now getting dark but we knew we had a bit of time to kill before getting the train back. We had booked Super Off Peak tickets- meaning we couldn't travel back till after 7:30pm. Regent's Street was the next street over so I took this opportunity to visit some of my favourite shops! My favourite in particular is Anthropologie. Their store has amazing visual merchandising and I just love what they sell (again minus the price tag!). I enjoy just looking around that shop as I find it inspiring (which I can't say many other shops do the same anymore). After some browsing around Regent's Street, we headed back to Victoria Station, chatting about the show as we went.

We grabbed a KFC at the station, then got the train back to Chichester, arriving back home around 9:30pm. It was kinda a long day, but a wonderful day non the less. 

I'd love to know if you have ever been to a musical/s and what did you think of it? Any recommendations please let me know!

All the best, 

Abbie xxx

Social Media and what it means to me

12 February 2021


I have a love/hate relationship with Social Media. I suppose most people do these days. With being at home more I've had social media at my constant disposal. Some days it lifts me up, other days it makes me feel inferior and useless. A toxic relationship if you will. 

A few years ago when I was fully in the blogging mode, I was using Twitter, (I had over 6k followers), Instagram (over 1k followers), Facebook, Pinterest, and other platforms I've since forgotten. 

Now I advocate not using Twitter, and have done for about 2 years now. My Instagram account now has just over 100 followers and my Facebook posts have limited engagement. 

I'm grateful in a number of ways that I'm not big on social media. I don't think I could handle the negativity it brings. I hear about people who are popular on Youtube and Instagram say how they receive vile and trolling comments on an ongoing basis. I'd hate to be on the receiving end of that. So keeping my social media presence to a minimum surely has it's benefits? Yes, it means I limit the content I see. I avoid news stories, avoid the platforms where trolls are aplenty, and sites where conspirators roam. I tailor as much as I can my news feed on Facebook, by following only those who I value and radiate positive vibes.

I can admit I am easily swayed by injustice and there is a lot of it circulating online. Thus making me want to stand up for fairness, but this then raises my stress and anxiety levels. Not a good move unless the cause is truly worthy. Maybe it's an age thing too. I'm not into Tik Tok, rarely use Whats App and any other upcoming platforms are beyond me. 

I go through phases of posting on Instagram, then feeling my content is inferior so I delete the app, go on a sabbatical from the app, then return when I'm in a better frame of mind. And repeat the cycle. I like Instagram as I only follow and see posts that I respect and are uplifting and inspiring. I manage to see very little hate and negativity which is good. 

Facebook is great for keeping in touch with friends and family, but I think it's seen as the Old Person of social media (well I suppose it is one of the original social media platforms now), and that it's not cool. But I don't care. It's for being virtually social on and that's what it gives me. Facebook gives me a connection to old school friends and distant family, which I'd otherwise not have.

Admittedly there is some envy with those who post on social media and make more for one post than I make in a year in wages. But as I mentioned previously there are all the backlash and negative comments that come with that and I've not got thick enough skin for that. My aim is to share my life but as and when I want to. I like to connect to like-minded people and read motivational content to try and filter out all the stress-inducing news stories out there.

And when I find content I like, it can also bring a sense of escapism. When traveling is a no-go, I like to watch Urbanist: Exploring Cities on Youtube. I can vicariously travel around New York and it's surrounding suburbs through the eyes of Ariel, it's host, and see and hear things outside of my home bubble. I can educate myself on the history of an ever-emerging city through Ariel's extensive and entertaining narration and engage with the viewers to which we all share a common interest in culture and history. It's a fun and joyful channel and a shining light of positivity on social media.

Other favourites that also bring me joy on social media are The Chateau Diaries, which you may have heard me mention once or twice before. Idyllic rural French chateau life, with a host of wonderful and interesting people who come through it's doors. Again another channel that focuses on positivity and the joy of being in a community. 

The beautiful cats that live with Claire in South Korea and shared via her channel Kittisaurus is another recommendation I have for stress-free viewing. Claire now has 10 gorgeous cats that live in her spacious apartment (though there are the cheeky but cute kitties to watch out for, namely Lulu -who I adore from afar-and Toto and Dodo the youngsters). The cats each have their own personality and they generally all get on. As a cat lover, I have become a fan of these fluffy cuties and the adventures they get up to. 

There is more I'm sure I could mention that are feel-good creators on social media, but I think I would be here for a while! 

So social media, it's there for when I need to feel (if be it a virtual) connection to the outside world whilst still in a never-ending lockdown. I try and make it a place where I can go for comfort, if not I simply delete the app and move on!

What do you think about social media? Do you enjoy it or are you a social media wallflower like me? I'd love to know your thoughts with your comments below :)


Abbie xxx 



My 2020 Favourites

24 December 2020


I think you'll agree this year has been like no other. And this year I've had my ups and my down's with my mental health. I really don't think I'm alone in saying that. It's refreshing to see so many Instagram accounts now talking about how to manage mental health issues. Especially as in the late 90s and early 2000's I found mental health was not really talked about publicly like it is now.

Anyway, I digress. This year I found solace and comfort in a number of things and these are some of the things that made me smile in an uncertain time...

Animal Crossing New Horizons and Nintendo Switch Lite

Ever since a girl I've loved Nintendo consoles. My first was a Nintendo Game & Watch handset which played just the one Mario and Luigi built in-game. A few years later came a Super Nintendo. Up until this year, it has been my favorite game console (I will cherish it forever though). I loved playing Zelda Links Awakening, Mario Kart, and Super Mario Allstars. Games that brought me so much joy to play (and arguments with my older sister!). Oh, and I must mention my Gameboy, which was great to play as it was a portable device. I've also more recently had a Nintendo DS.

Though this year, my very generous husband gifted me a Nintendo Switch Lite with Animal Crossing New Horizons. I had previously played Animal Crossing New Leaf, but I gave up playing it after a while. But I had seen that New Horizons was bigger and better than it's predecessor, so I was eager to play it. I love the open world, kind-hearted and character-driven games. 

My birthday was not until mid-April, but prior to that, the world was starting to change. Work was closing, shops were closing, travel was being restricted and I was finding myself, like many others at home with little to do. Being that my mind can be my own enemy at the best of times, I like to do nice and calming activities to distract myself. My husband knows how I am, so gave me my Switch Lite and Animal Crossing game a week after it was released in the UK at the end of March. And I am eternally grateful that he did because I credit this game for helping me get through this bonkers year. 

Yes, some may see it as just a computer game, but to me, it is so much more. I find joy in speaking to my island residents each day, gifting them items, and helping them when they are sick. I like to design my island, complete daily and seasonal tasks. I like visiting other players' islands too. All this has made me smile and feel absorbed in a world of kindness and friendship. 

I've also discovered Youtubers who also play Animal Crossing on their channels. People like Nintendtalk and Switch Force. Both are friendly, down to earth guys, sharing their love for the game also. These videos are enjoyable to watch and make me feel connected to other like-minded people.

Animal Crossing New Horizons may not have won Game of the Year this year but it is my Game of the Year. I can't wait to see what 2021 brings to Animal Crossing New Horizons.

The Chateau Diaries

If anyone knows me at all, they know I have discovered a love for vintage fashion and homeware over the last few years. It's a shame it's come to a halt this last year, with not being able to visit my favorite vintage markets and sales. So I've had to find solace in other ways.

Around April this year, whilst in lockdown 1.0, I was looking on Youtube (like I have done for a large chunk of this year!) and I was recommended a video about a chateau (Chateau LaLande) in France. The video was showing many of the rooms in this chateau and I thought it looked pretty. The woman who owned the chateau was pleasant and friendly and I really enjoyed her showing behind the scenes of the chateau. 

Another one of her videos was then recommended to me and I watched that too. From that, I started to watch whenever a new video from her (Stephanie's) channel was aired. And from there I became hooked. 

Something about Stephanie's positivity, honesty, and friendliness appealed to me. Especially at a time when the world was (and still is) going to pot, her videos of hope made me want to keep watching.

The chateau itself is from the 15th century, though has had some modifications over the years. There's still work to be done in and around the chateau, but watching the journey of this happen is a delight to see. The community that Stephanie has helped create of fans is one of sheer positivity and generosity.

Stephanie decided to set up a Patreon account back earlier this year and now has over two thousand people each month donating money to the renovation of the chateau. You might wonder why so many people would donate to a large house in the middle of France. And whilst I can't speak on behalf of the other Patreons, I know for myself (as I am also a Patreon) that my small donation helps Stephanie do the renovations to the chateau she's not been able to do since she first purchased it over 15 years ago. Seeing as the chateau is so old (and very much loved by many people far and wide)  I like to know I am doing my small bit to help keep it going for many more years (and hopefully centuries) to come. 

Like I mentioned before Stephanie is very open with all that is going on with the renovations, keeping her viewers (and Patreons) regularly up to date with what is happening. She also is clear with the money she gets and how it is spent (something that not many other Youtubers do). And also Stephanie has integrity. She doesn't like to class herself as an Influencer (though I know she has influenced a lot of people to invest in vintage china plates!). As such she has very few sponsorship deals in her videos which is refreshing to watch. Instead, she supplements her income from the guests paying to stay at the chateau, from the ad revenue from both her Chateau Diaries channel and Cadeaux at the Chateau channel, and from the income via Patreon. Not to say she wouldn't work with a brand, but she only would if it truly aligned with the chateau.

One other major part of the success of her channel (On the 1st of January this year Stephanie had just under 7.5k subscribers and is now on over 100K!) is the people in her videos. Not only is Stephanie becoming like a fur flung friend, but the volunteers and guests at the chateau are such wonderful people. There's always so much joy and laughter with the residents of the chateau. Never is two days alike and everyone has their own skills and talents they bring to the chateau to help with the running and renovations.

I often feel like I am watching a soap with all characters I love, except these are real people! If this year has been simply magical for the chateau, then I can't wait to see what 2021 brings!

Friends TV Show

I guess I don't have to say much about the TV show as it's a well-known show. I've always loved the comedy, the characters, the storylines, and the fashion of the show. This year it became my most-watched show on Netflix. Seeing as I had lots of time at home this year I was looking for something funny and comforting to watch (when I wasn't watching The Chateau Diaries that is!). 

I ended up watching the Friends boxset on Netflix 4 times this year (it might have been 5 times, I kinda lost track!). Now that might not sound like much to some, but I've never committed to boxsets much before. I tend to lose steam after a few series, but with time on my hands, I would watch from the very first episode of season 1 all the way through to the last ever episode in season 10 and then go back all the way to the beginning of season one again (which would always be bittersweet cos of knowing how the characters live to play out throughout the seasons).

I found comfort in the familiarity of the characters and the storylines. I also would watch for what Rachel would be wearing and try to recreate some of her iconic looks myself!). If I was feeling stressed or anxious I would snuggle in my bed, pop on Friends, and zone out to a better time and place.

Strictly Come Dancing

Towards the end of 2020 came the return of Strictly Come Dancing. This year a shorter run is to keep all the dancers and staff safe with Covid restrictions. I remember Dan telling me before the first episode had been aired that Bill Bailey was lined up to be on it. As soon as Dan mentioned his name I knew I was going to definitely watch this year. I find Bill to not only be a great comedian but a lovely down to earth guy too. I wasn't sure what his dancing skills would be like if I'm honest, but I knew I wanted to see how he would get on.

The show as always was full of glitz and glamour, but what I loved was that all the celebrities were coming from a level playing field. None had performed in this way before, so it was anyone's to win. I found Bill to be the humble guy I had him down for and was impressed with how well he danced each week. Yes, some of the other celebrities may have had the edge with technique but there was something wonderful about watching Bill dance. I was rooting for him from the off!

By the final, I was on tenterhooks to see how well each of the finalists would do. I was ecstatic when Bill has announced the winner as I don't think he appreciated how popular he was with the viewers. Even though Kelvin rightfully deserved to win last year, there's something about someone unassuming winning. All the celebrities were fantastic to watch but Bill was always my winner.

As a side note, Dan has been collecting signed autobiographies by different celebrities over the last few years (more so this year than any other) and he got a signed copy of Shirley Ballas autobiography. I started to give it a read and became quickly hooked. I was fascinated to read about her life of becoming a world champion Latin and Ballroom dancer and her extremely dedicated mindset to get there. She really has lived a full and packed life and I really respect her as a judge as she really does know every possible thing about dancing.

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Whilst I've been looking back at these saviors of my 2020, it became clear that they all have one thing in common, friendship and kindness (ok make that two things!). From Friends to Strictly to The Chateau Diaries to Animal Crossing, they all focus on the positivity of looking out for the ones you love, being kind to each other, and supporting each other. 

I guess that's what I needed this year amongst all else. Commandery, kindness, joy, and some lightness in the dark times. I hope they continue to bring joy into my world in 2021 as much as they did this year.

I wish you a happy and safe Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Love, Abbie xxx

A little update from me to you

1 November 2020



A warm hello and how are you?

I hope that since I last wrote on here that you have been keeping well, both physically and mentally. This year continues to be challenging to say the least. We are now facing another lockdown in England for four weeks (or so they say). Some would argue if the Government did this sooner a shorter lockdown might have happened instead, but I don't want to get political here.

So it's only just been announced as such I don't know what that hold's for my work. Where I work is a non-essential shop, so I would expect us to be closed. The Government said they are reinstating the furlough scheme so that's a weight off my mind. I was worried about my earnings (but at least I currently have a job, that I am grateful for). 

So now I see myself returning to my daily outfits of PJs and cozy blankets. Not washing my hair as often (I know, gross, but like if I'm at home every day then I get lazy and I'm trying to be honest here) and my daily steps on my pedometer will drop from over 10k a day to under 1k (unless I decide to get outside for some exercise if that's allowed?).

I've also learned some very sad news about someone I've known personally for over 20 years this week. I don't want to write much as I don't think it's my place to divulge but all I can say he will be very much missed. If you know someone who is struggling with their mental health (or yourself maybe) please know that there is support out there (I'm always there for a chat ) but it's defo worth checking out:


So I'm thinking of what I can do during lockdown to keep myself focused on a project. I find my mental health can slide a bit when I feel I have nothing to look forward to or a purpose for my time.
I like instant gratification, so having something I can do with a short term outcome keeps me sane.
I'm thinking...

  • Keeping up with my blog (though I'll have to think of things to write about!)
  • Sewing projects (I want to get a sewing machine and make hair scrunchies, tote bags and face masks- perhaps sell for some proceeds to a mental health charity)
  • Tidying the wardrobe in my bedroom (It's got built-in sliding glass doors and I have crammed in so much stuff in a mess- think Monica's secret cupboard in Friends!)

That's not a lot but it's something to focus on. I would be tempted to start up my Instagram again, but I have to start from literal scratch as I deleted my main account about a month ago. Now I have 4 followers on my new account and I think it's so much work to build up an audience again. Esp as so many people cheat the system with bots etc. And I'm not 25, pretty and on-trend. And there are so many accounts on Insta, I think it's oversaturated so I'll stick here with my little ole blog. 

What else can I share? I already have my Christmas tree up! I know, it's super early in most people's books but I want something pretty to look at. Especially in the evening when the lights sparkle. This year is rubbish and something sparkly in the doom and gloom can't be a bad thing. 
Watching these slushy Christmas films on Netflix doesn't help mind! Make's me want to put more decorations out but I'll hold off for a bit longer!

I keep wanting to try live streaming on Youtube. I tried on Twitch but I think it was a bit beyond me. I think Youtube might be a bit easier to use. It will just be me chatting to whoever joins in. It's one of those things I like the idea of doing from a sociable point of view, but I do feel so awkward in front of a camera. I'm out of my comfort zone for sure. I guess I can only try right? 

Dan's work has been taking a hit recently. If you don't know Dan has a Youtube channel where he creates therapeutic relaxing sleep stories for adults. As the videos are to be listened to as meditative stories, there needs to be no interruptions in the form of ads. So when Dan uploads his videos to Youtube, he makes sure no mid-roll ads are set. Except despite doing this he gets his videos randomly have ads in the middle of them and then he gets complaints from his audience and it affects his reputation through no fault of his own. He is challenging this with Youtube but seems to be not getting anywhere. As a result, Dan has stopped uploading videos to Youtube until this issue has been resolved. This means his income has dropped as he isn't getting as much revenue from Youtube. On top of that is his other main form of income is making educational courses based around Hypnosis and psychology. The site he uses offers his courses to many people around the world but the website he uses has set the prices so low that Dan doesn't make much per course. And over the last few months, his sales have dropped, despite how much he tries to promote them. So I do hope that Dan's work does pick its self up as he puts a lot of time and effort into what he creates and I hate to see it not do as well as it should.


What else to share? How about some things I have been loving recently? My personal recommendations are:

*Cosy slippers- I got these in the Prime Day deals (I know I am still anti Amazon but this year has been about the convenience of shopping). Not only are they super cute, but they are so comfy as well. 
*Animal Crossing New Horizons- I'm still going strong on this. Prob nearly 700 hours in and I still really enjoy playing it. I play it every day. The seasonal updates do help keep me invested in the game. I've only just finished remodeling my island and it took me over a month to complete!
*Teddy bear fleece bedding- A number of retailers sell this super soft and cozy bedding. I have a set and it's so cozy and warm. I also have upgraded from a synthetic duvet to a duck feather and down duvet and that is so much warmer and snuggly. John Lewis is a great place to get one from.
*Soft fluffy rug- Perfect for the aesthetics of my room and also feels lovely to walk on.  

Basically, any homeware that is soft and cozy has a thumbs up from me!

So that's about it for my ramblings. I wish you well for the forthcoming weeks and keep safe,

Love Abbie xxx
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