Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Travel | My Love Affair With York

Last Friday, my boyfriend Jordan and I, decided we needed a little break from work, and took ourselves to York for the night. We had originally booked to go to a spa in Daresbury on a Groupon deal, but the hotel messed us about so much that we cancelled it. After umming and ahhing where to go that wasn’t too far away for an overnight stay, we landed on our old favourite, York. This year and last we went for my birthday and also visited last Christmas, and I fell in love with the city. I had been before with a friend, but hadn’t really explored the depth of what York had to offer, but since then I just can’t wait to get back.

York is one of those strange cities that is steeped in history, lined with gorgeous, longstanding buildings, and is famous for its amazing afternoon teas, but it also attracts stag and hen parties throughout summer, normally tying in to when the races are on. In November though we were lucky that it wasn’t too busy with Christmas shoppers or tourists, and there was not an L sign in sight.
When we visit York, I usually try to find a decent priced guesthouse, which I thought I had this time. We stayed in the Sycamore Guest house, about a 10 minute walk from the city, which was pleasant, but not worth the money, and I could definitely recommend nicer places to stay! The d├ęcor was slightly dated, and the bathroom was incredibly small (and the sink was in the room itself as it wouldn’t fit), but we didn’t let this dampen the stay.
We couldn’t check into the room when we first arrived (another downfall) so we went for a wander through the museum gardens and up into the city. We walked to the Shambles, and around the market there, back down past the shops and to one of our favourite pubs to play on the pub quiz machine. We were out for about an hour in all, and then we stopped off at the guesthouse to get changed, and headed out again! This time we wandered around the shops (I obviously bought two new dresses, some boots and a top) and stopped to get a festive drink from Costa, and cake. I opted for a sticky toffee latte which was lovely and Jordan had a white hot chocolate with raspberry sauce and whipped cream, both in robin cups! By the time we had finished, it was dark so we started to walk back to the guesthouse to get changed for dinner.
I had noticed on the walk back that there was a Turtle Bay that had opened since the last time we were there, so we went in to book a table for a couple of hours later. For those of you who don’t know what Turtle Bay is, they are a line of Caribbean restaurants, and the food is amazing (the menu is here) I’d only been once before to the one in the Northern Quarter in Manchester, but I loved it. Once we were changed, we headed back (me in my new boots and dress!) The restaurant itself was decorated with fairy lights, and was meant to look like Caribbean street vendors, mixed with different coloured seats, exposed brick walls and paintings of Bob Marley everywhere. I love anywhere that has fairy lights, so I thought it was amazing!! We started with the beef patty, with scotch bonnet mayo, which was a bit like a pasty with spicy beef mince in, but it was delicious. I opted for the jerk lamb and sweet potato fries, which I had last time I went, but it was so good I felt like I needed it again and Jordan went for the ribs. After a couple of pints of red stripes and cocktails, we decided to take the long way back to the hotel, and stopped off to get some sweet treats for the room.

On the Saturday morning we had a full English breakfast at the hotel, which although nice, still didn't match the price we had paid (as you can tell this is a sore talking point!) After we checked out, we went for a stroll around the city, and stopped to get tea. The weather was dreary and drizzly to start with, but by the afternoon it was glorious sunshine, and we walk down the Shambles, and around the streets, and up the River Ouse before getting more tea, obvs. I also bought a kilogram of baklava because its a major love of mine. We went to Yo Sushi for lunch and had a final last look around the shops before parting with the beautiful city. 

I can't really describe why I love York so much, but we've already booked to go back at Christmas. I think one of the reasons is the mixture of the old and new and the quaint, cute little shops that are just very me - oh and they have an all round Christmas shop, next door to a cat shop, so y'know, I feel at home. I am 99% sure that at some point in my life I will live there! 


Sunday, 8 November 2015

My Blog Promise

(Yessss this is another chatty, feelings blog, but this one is different I promise!)

I’ve noticed that my last couple of blogs have been quite emotionally charged and intense, and I’m worried that people are getting the wrong image of me when I write these types of blogs and that I'm starting to sound like a broken record always talking about my feelings! I really wanted my blog to be a place that I shared my thoughts so girls realised we’re all a lot more similar than we think, but also a place to show the latest things I’ve bought, my favourite makeup looks, my beauty regime, my trips away, recipes, new things I love, places I visit, you get it, the whole shebang … and although I feel like there is a mixture, I think I can also plan what I say much better, so people enjoy reading my blog and don’t just assume it’s another depressing post about living with anxiety. So this is now a promise for the future of eleanorgraceful!

There is a lot more to me personality that sometimes I don’t think shine through when I write. Firstly, I am sarcastic about 97% of the time! Secondly, I am pretty much in love with my cat, and even though he shows me no affection whatsoever, his little face just instantly puts a smile on my face. Thirdly, I have a great set of people around me that make me more than happy, so much that it annoys me that I don’t tell them more, so HEY GUYS, I LOVE YA! And lastly, like most twenty-something girls, I have no idea where my life is going, but I’m in it for the long run!

I didn’t start my blog to be a self-help expert for not having enough confidence, suffering from anxiety or panic attacks, but instead to be a ‘real’ person, giving ‘real’ accounts of how those things do feel. alongside being a relatable girl. However, there is so much more to me than the little bits that I share on my blog, and I would hate people not to know that, and think that I feel down all of the time. I don’t write a blog to express my feelings, and although it does help from time to time, I write a blog because I love to write. I get to write a lot in my job, and I got to write a lot at university, and throughout school, but there is something completely rich and compelling about writing what you want to write, and how you feel, and what you think of music, or beauty products, or fashion, and having people agree with what you say. Not everyone is going to agree with me, and I know that, but sometimes it is nice to know there are people out there who feel the same as you, especially on emotive topics such as panic attacks and anxiety. So don't worry guys, you're not alone! 

The post I wrote on anxiety still sits up there with the most viewed on my blog, and it’s lovely to think that people are finding comfort in knowing that they are not alone, but I also feel as though this may have clouded my judgment on what to write in the future. I'm not saying I'll never write another post focusing on these things, but I also want to share with you all the things I love as well. I’ll be honest, the confidence blog wasn’t planned: It was something that came about after a meeting with my manager, and one that I just wrote and wrote and wrote without really thinking, and looking back, it’s pretty awful. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely a heartfelt post, and when I was writing it, there was so much more I wanted to say, but I also just wanted to post a blog, so I did!

The world of blogging is still completely new and exciting to me, even though I have been blogging for a couple of years. I read a lot of blogs from a whole host of different girls, talking about a million different things (side note, where all the boy bloggers at??! Come on lads!) and the blogging community really is amazing. There are so many lovely people out there who just want to lift you up and comment on your work about how great and meaningful it is, and how they have just found your blog, but they can’t wait to read more etc. etc. and it is this type of community that I really want to be a part of. There are still a lot of bloggers out there who talk about anxiety and how writing helps them express their feelings and focus on something when a bout of anxiety comes: I think there is a bit of an overlap there; but for me, I know I need to not focus on the negative parts of my life so much, and bring you with me on the adventure that is my life.

I’m starting to ramble now, but this post has already helped me feel a lot my upbeat and excited about all the things to come. I am not going to schedule posts, or even say particular days of the week that I am going to blog on; I am just going to go with the flow as they say. And if there is anything in particular that you would like to see, then by all means, let me know!

Here’s to the future kids, and all of the amazing, beautiful, terrifying experiences that are yet to come! x

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Where Does Confidence Come From?

Since I was younger, I've never thought of myself as being a confident person, despite what I know people think of me. I have always being plagued with anxiety and have sometimes felt very claustrophobic and shy when I meet new people, but I am aware that a lot of people think the complete opposite of me. To me, when you are growing up there are three types of confidence that you regularly have to come to terms with; they are, confidence in yourself as a person, basically meaning that you believe in yourself, and that  the decisions you are making are right; confidence with the opposite sex and being able to get to where you want to be with boys, whether for friendship or more, and lastly, body confidence - being confident in the skin that you're in.

When I think of young women and confidence, I know that we are sometimes slated for how much we let social media influence our lives, and ergo our confidence. We know that the people on Instagram or Twitter, and the celebrities we compare ourselves to aren't everyday women like you and me; they have personal trainers, make-up artists, chefs etc. that help them live the lifestyle of being in the public eye. But it doesn't stop us from thinking that they are better, or richer, or thinner, or more toned than us, which in turn decreases our confidence. What are we like eh?

When I was a teenager I was at an all girls school, which meant that I never really had much experience around the opposite sex. In fact, I even went to an all girls primary school, so I never really spend time around boys properly until I was about 13. I found that when I was meeting boys though, they weren't as hard to talk to as I once thought, and I have many friends now who are male that I am just as close to as female. Once I was able to break down this wall of anxiety around the opposite sex, I felt as though I could really be myself and enjoy the company of them. Don't get me wrong though, I still felt nervous and jittery from time to time, and I still don't 100% feel comfortable meeting new people, but that's just my personality, plus that's with either gender.

Throughout my life, I have also had problems with my weight. I've mentioned before that being on different forms of contraception massively influenced this, but overall I think that I have always felt as though I would be happier if I was thinner, which I know is an unhealthy attitude to have. I have noticed this much more in recent years since I have left university, and been in a relationship, which may seem like a strange time to be doubting your self image. I was looking through old photos the other day of me when I was around 19/20 at a club in Manchester wearing a spaghetti strap dress, no tights and quite a lot of questionable orange makeup, and I just couldn't believe it was me. If you know me, you'll know that 1) I absolutely hate my arms, and I don't think I have had them out in a good few years (quite possibly since that night) and 2) The thought of not wearing tights on a night out immediately fills me with dread. When I saw the picture I couldn't quite believe that I had managed to be so confident with the way I looked, even though I would have said I was slightly larger back then. I'm still not quite sure where all that confidence went, but it was nice to see that at one point in my life, I really didn't care what anybody else thought of me, and that is an attitude I want to get back.

This is a strange post to write because it might sound like I am saying that I really care what other people think of me, but that is not the case. It's a strange one being a girl: We do and don't care what others think of us at the same time, and in turn this makes us act the way we do, dress the way we do, and even sometimes create a persona and a completely new attitude towards life. In the past at work, I've felt that my true personality has never really shone through until recently. Although in myself I feel shy and anxious, people tend not to perceive me in this way because of the person they think I am, from the person I tend to portray. I build up and act more confident than I really am because I feel this is more attractive for a person and more accepted; but since I have been enjoying work more, and I have found a job that suits me I feel I can be myself and therefore be more confident.

Stay happy folks x


Sunday, 1 November 2015

What Goes On In A Twenty-Something's brain?

What a question! A question with too many answers to even quantify. What goes on in my brain, I can't even comprehend myself sometimes. I'm having one of those massively nostalgic afternoons, where I've decided to watch 90210, blog, and also listen to Backstreet Boys... it is a Sunday after all.

Although I'm always saying how fast time passes by, at the same time, this year seems to have dragged on enormously. 2015 has had it ups and downs for me, but overall, unfortunately this has been a very hard year for me and my family. We've dealt with loss, I've drifted away from some friends, I had a stint in hospital, and me and Jordan had to move out of our flat together because of a mould problem. But today is the start of November, which is my favourite part of the year. I love everything to do with Winter and Christmas, and I'm hoping this will get me out of the slump I seem to have fallen into.

Last night I was at one of my closest friend's engagement party and it was a really special night. When I think of times like this, it does make me realise that although I may be going through a tough year myself, those around me are having a completely different time to me, and that's what makes me feel happy; to know I am a part of other people's happiness and to see my friends so content. And the groom's speech was so adorable!

Another two of my best friends also got engaged this year, and without sounding too soppy, it was so lovely to think that after 10 years together they will actually be getting married. It sounds strange, but I have know these two throughout their whole relationship, and I was so over the moon to hear that. So again, things like this have really helped me get through my tough times.

Don't get me wrong, I am generally a happy person, and I have a lot to look forward to next year. 2016 already seems to have a lot more prospects on the horizon; buying a house, going on a proper holiday and really settling down into my 'mid-twenties'. Christ, how old do I sound!

I've mentioned this before as well, but I also got a new addition to my family in October, who is the loveliest, cutest baby ever, little Elizabeth. And, Jordan got a new nephew this year too, who is also adorable, and babies always make me happy!

I'm not quite sure what I was trying to say with this blog, but I'm just hoping this last part of the year, my favourite part of the year, is filled with happy memories and genuine happiness after one of the hardest years of my life comes to an end. I'm already digging my Christmas jumpers out, making Christmas playlists, and planning where me and Jordan can celebrate our anniversary together.

And without wishing my life away, here's to a better year next year!
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