16 great things from 2016

I’m probably right on the wire of what’s an acceptable time to still be talking about last year (we should be looking forward, not backwards, yada yada yada) but I’ve seen this post on a few blogs I follow and thought it would be a nice way to look back with some fondness on the year that will go down in history as the worst in my life so far (cheery, no?)

So, here – in no particular order (apart from the first one!) are 16 great things that happened to me in 2016!


1 – The wedding of the year

The last weekend in October will remain a highlight for many many years to come; as we celebrated the marriage of two of our closest friends. As well as it just being all round amazing, I was lucky enough to be a bridesmaid and got to wear the most stunning dress. The day was just the culmination of months of anticipation, planning, get togethers and love. It was perfect the whole way through. Read about it and see pics here.

2 – My first guest post

I was asked by the lovely Estelle from Estellosaurus to write a guest post to be featured on her website. It was truly a surprise and an honour that someone liked my writing enough to put it out there on their own blog, so thank you!

3 – Discovering the Everything 5 Pounds website

This might sound ridiculous, but when did that ever stop me?! One of my work friends introduced to me this website and it’s become a semi addiction. I’ve had loads of stuff so far for not much money, and what’s not to like about that? (anything to indulge my shopping passion)

4 – Eating snails

A bit of a strange one, but when I was in Lyon I tried snails for the first time and REALLY enjoyed them!  I didn’t expect to at all, so it was a nice surprise and something of a personal achievement, if only for the conversational value and seeing some people’s reaction!

5 – True friendship

2016 was a crossroads for me, with some friendship disappointments and hurt. On the plus side, it made me realise just how amazing other people in my life are and brought us even closer through shared experiences and supporting each other.

6 – Instagram

I bloody love Instagram! I like nosing at other people’s photos, I like collating my own photos, and I love chatting to like minded people about clothes and all sorts! Instagram is one of my fave social media platforms. You can find my instaprofile and follow me here!

7 – A new Greek holiday destination

In July the husband and I travelled to a new (to us) destination on mainland Greece, not knowing if it would be as good as our absolute favourite place. But it was just amazing and we had a fabulously relaxed week. You can read about it and see pics here.

8 – Rediscovering our favourite bistro

A late entry this, from my birthday on 20th December, but we went back to a local restaurant which used to be our absolute favourite, and remembered just how much we loved it, They had some problems a couple of years back and closed for a while, and we hadn’t been back since, but it was just as fabulous as we remembered.

9 – Family time

In the midst of losing my Dad in September, I’ve spent some precious family time saying goodbye to him, grieving him, remembering him and loving him. It’s a strange great thing to come from something so horrible, but there it is.

10 – My (almost) half sleeve tattoo

I never ever thought I would have as many tattoos as I have, and when I made the decision to extend my shoulder tattoo earlier this year it was going to just be a quarter sleeve, no lower than t-shirt sleeve length. But I kind of got carried away and it’s now almost a half sleeve, oops! I love it though, and have no regrets whatsoever (good job really, what with it being permanent!)

11 – Inside the Basilica de Notre Dame in Lyon

Our trip to Lyon, as a whole, wasn’t as good as hoped (bad weather and May Day closures being big contributors amongst other things), but the inside of the Basilica was an absolutely jaw dropping moment. It’s one of the most detailed and ornate buildings I’ve ever been, and there was so much to look at and take in. I’m not religious in any way, but I felt quite emotional and overcome with it all. Amazing. You can see lots of pictures here.

12 – A day trip to Chester Zoo

This was just ace. Watching the giraffes for ages was my personal highlight, but the whole place is incredible; very well done, lots of space for the animals, and an all round great day out. Read more about it and see pics here.

13 – Our electric barbecue!

Another slightly odd one, perhaps, but we’re not allowed to have barbecues on our balcony as ruled by the management company, so the discovery of an electric barbecue by the persistent husband brought our world of outdoor eating back! We had some lovely summer evenings in our little space in the sky, and some yummy food too.

14 – Our friends renewing their wedding vows

In August some friends of ours renewed their wedding vows and invited us to share their celebrations in a ceremony and garden party at their home. We had such a wonderful day of love and laughter, which brings a warm glow whenever I think about it. Read more about it and see some pics here.

15 – Coming to the joint decision to move house

Over the years there have been times when the husband has wanted to move but I haven’t, or the other way round. 2016 was the time when both our mindsets aligned, and we decided that yes, we’re ready to leave our flat and move into a more grown up home with a garden and more space. It’s mega exciting and became a huge focus for us at the end of the year as we look around and decide what kind of home we want and where.

16 – The husband

Sorry for the soppy ending but it’s true – the husband was my rock through such dark and difficult times. It wasn’t always plain sailing and it hasn’t been all hearts and flowers (we can both be somewhat challenging, me way more so) but ultimately I know he has my back and will support me, and that means a lot.

Have you done a post like this, or a yearly round up? Leave me your links, I’d love to have a nosy!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Gig review – Biters in Wolverhampton

Sometimes a band comes along that you’re genuinely excited about – that you’re grabbed by right from the off. For me, this year, that band is the Biters.


I’ve only been aware of them for a couple of months (although they’ve been around for a while), but their current album – Electric Blood – is everything a rock ‘n’ roll album should be, and more.

So I was very excited to hear they were touring.

Biters tour

Less excited when I found out it was on a Wednesday, in Wolverhampton.

a) Wednesday – well, say no more. School night. No drinking or partying or really throwing yourself into the occasion because you have work the next day (not that I need a drink to have a good time, but y’know).

b) Wolverhampton. Despite it’s pretty close vicinity to Birmingham, it’s a bit of a ballache to get to.

There’s also the small matter that it was less than two days til our holiday, nothing was packed and some of it wasn’t even washed yet.

But still.

Husband has this band ticked for good things, and I had a heavy sense of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) so we said “fuck it” to the practicalities, and off we trundled.

The Slade Rooms is a great venue – a big wide stage so you can see plenty of what’s going on, a good size gig room, ace sound and a big bar too. My favourite of the Wolverhampton venues I think – much more geared up towards a rock gig than, say, the Wulfrun or Civic Hall.

We weren’t bothered about seeing the support band, as is often the case, but arrived in time to catch them. And am I glad we did! Shock Hazard are a 3 piece from Norwich and they were great! The singer played lead guitar like he was in a full house at Wembley – a great frontman throwing himself around the stage, getting into the audience and, at one point, climbing up to the top of two big stacked amps (I actually said out loud “this isn’t going to end well” which probably wasn’t the reaction he wanted!) The band themselves look pretty mis-matched; a curly haired crazy rock god in the making, the bassist who looked like he’d be better suited in This is England 90, and the drummer who was so skinny he barely looked capable of lifting the sticks. But together they were amazing – tight, loud, fun to watch. It was a great opener.

And then came The Biters. They didn’t disappoint. Right from the off they kicked ass. Musically brilliant, vocally brilliant – loved them. 4 guys from Atlanta Georgia, this was their debut UK tour and I really felt for them – they deserved better. Wolvo on a Wednesday night is not going to go crazy, regardless of how fantastic you are (they were) and they deserved a bigger, better crowd. The front man actually said at one point “what do I need to do to get you guys going?” But what they were doing was just fine by me. Guitar riffs with a 70s flavour, singalong chorus’ and the kind of drums and bass that you can’t help but stomp along to. Singer and guitar player Tuk has the coolest style – all punky hair and skinny jeans and he’s a funny guy too; interspersing their songs with tales from the tour and home, and having some fun with members of the audience. But the music was the absolute star of the show, as it should be.

Highlights of the night for me were 1975 and Low Lives in Hi Definition, but really it would be wrong to put them out their as favourites because everything was so freakin’ good!

At times sounding like Thin Lizzy (never a bad thing!) with a distinctive vocal that makes them instantly recognisable, their songs are varied in tempo and style, but all with that inimitable 70s rock ‘n’ roll attitude that to me embodies all that I like about rock music.

If they do get as big as husband predicts, I’ll be honoured to say I saw them in a small venue in Wolvo on a Wednesday night.

But next time, if they could play a weekend date, the crowd might actually engage and show them just how great they really are!

Stupidly, I deleted all my pics (noooooo!) so here’s one courtesy of the husband.

Biters singer

And here is “Low Lives in Hi Definition”

Check ’em out!


Hotel Review – Cotswold88, Painswick

Sometimes just being away overnight, like we did this weekend, is all it takes to feel like you’ve had a good break. A change of scenery, travelling somewhere, seeing new places – it can make a normal weekend feel like a mini holiday.

It’s also really easy to pack for!

Earlier this year we did just that and went off to the Cotswolds. I had received an overnight stay and dinner as one of my Christmas gifts from ‘im indoors (running out of ways to describe Mr Me on here – maybe I should just stop talking about him) which I was free to book at my leisure. After a whole 4 weeks back at work in the New Year, I was more than ready to get away.

Cotswold88 hotel is stunning. It’s part of the Mr & Mrs Smith hotel collection.


Painswick – the small village in which it is located – is equally stunning. Dating back to the 11th Century, the village is mentioned in the Doomsday Book. Even on a cold January afternoon, with overcast skies and a howling wind, it was a pleasure to be there.

We arrived at the hotel before the advertised check in time and were invited to leave our bags at reception and either explore the village or make ourselves comfortable in one of the hotel lounges. We headed out to a local pub for some lunch and a mooch around the village.



Everything is built in Cotswold stone.




Wanting to make the most of the hotel and it’s sumptuous surroundings, we headed back at around 3pm.


There are quirky touches around every corner.

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Each of the public rooms is decorated individually.




A large glass of wine in front of the roaring fire soon brushed off the cold walk around the village.


I loved these light fittings in the bar.


The staff were incredibly helpful and friendly; I’d expected an element of stuffiness as can often be the case in boutique hotels but that wasn’t the case at all. We were immediately put at ease on arrival and remained entirely relaxed throughout our stay.

Dinner was delicious. I can’t remember the detail so have just checked the website, only to find that the hotel has been sold! It’s currently undergoing total refurbishment and will be closed until Christmas. It will be interesting to see what happens. The new name is “The Painswick“, which it used to be previously. I got the feeling from some of the locals that the extravagant décor was not to their taste, so maybe it’s going back to the traditional look. It was certainly anything but during our stay!

On Sunday morning we had a look around the churchyard – a grade 1 listed building. There are some very old tombs and monuments, and a plethora of yew trees.




Would I go back? Not to Cotswold88, obvs, as it doesn’t exist anymore! That’s really surprised me, but also disappointed me as we’d hoped to go back in the summer. But Painswick is definitely worth a visit; even if just part of a short stop on a mini tour around the beautiful Cotswolds villages in the area.