#TBT: 10 years after High School

It wasn’t until a classmate posted a photo on Facebook of the Moorside High School Prom DVD that we all realised it had been ten years since we left the school gates for the last time.

That prom happened on 20 May 2005 and we have been out of secondary school for twice as long as we actually spent there. Yep, we’re officially old.

What’s scary is it doesn’t even feel like that day was a decade ago, but a lot has happened and whether we like it or not, we are now full-blown adults.

There have been A-Levels, first loves, first legal nights out, graduations, holidays, jobs, mortgages, marriages and babies, but I know deep down we’re all still that same bunch of 16-year-olds who really don’t feel any older…

Class of 2005 – here’s to the next ten.

– love Stef x

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The Bucket List: Revisited

While I still have a few months until I turn 26 (sorry Keeling!) I thought I would come back to the bucket list and see what I have achieved this last year. Depressing as it seems, the older I get the quicker time seems to pass me by. Of the 13 items on last year’s list, I have only managed two of them: 1. Seeing the New Year in Sydney sydney nye 2015 the royal botanical gardens the point view111 In last year’s post I used a stock image, this one here was taken by me. 2. Dive the Great Barrier Reef IMG_1672 Again, this beauty was taken by me, but for illustration purposes this was actually from diving in Fiji – we weren’t allowed to take pics at the GBR, boo! As incredible as it was to be in Australia as the New Year started, I still felt like I was in limbo. Although I am luckily on the right side of 30, there are still so many things I want to do, sooner rather than later. As you will see in last year’s list there was a lot of focus on travelling, and well basically, being anywhere but here in a small town, in the Midlands, under what feels like a near constant cover of cloud. I have decided to make some decisions, and I think it is time to start living my life. I am not reckless enough to just up and leave, but I am going travelling, and I am spending the next two years planning a trip that could last for just as long, or even longer. What got me thinking was a story I read recently about a nurse who worked in palliative care whose patients basically went home to die. She asked them if they had any regrets or anything they would have done differently with their lives. There was a common theme amongst the answers, and out of the top five, these three stood out to me: 1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. 3. I wish that I had let myself be happier. I think society has a lot to do with these responses, given that these people would have been teenagers in the 40s and 50s – a time where it was normal for a woman to be a housewife, cook, clean and breed, while the man of the house went out to work. We all know that in 2015, things are not what they were, or are they? At 25, having been with my boyf. for nearly five years (literally don’t know where the time has gone), I am hit with many questions about starting a family, getting married and “settling down”. Erm, no. While I am truly happy for anyone who wants that life, it just isn’t on the cards for us right now. I mean, it scares me that I am at an age where if I were to get pregnant my mom would be HAPPY! My ID may say I’m 25, but secretly I’m still 15. So I will start with point one, having courage to live a life true to myself and not what others expect of me. I’ll say it now, I am not having kids any time soon! I look on Facebook and there are so many people who post a million picture of their kids, or rant about their wedding plans, and I am over here like “I’m watching a DVD in bed with my cats” and I am cool with it. They have their lives, I have mine and I am happy with not procreating or making vows right now. My aim is to be happy, to do what drives me, and not what is expected of me. I want to see the world, meet new people, discover new things – I might even manage to write that book I have been talking about for so long. Believe me, I am not one of these people that is running away travelling to “find” themselves, ‘cos I ain’t lost. Life is for living – and that’s what I intend to do. So here it is, a bucket list that I intend to fulfil: 1. See the Northern Lights – I just don’t think there will be a sight more naturally beautiful than the lights. Unknown 2. Party at Carnival in Rio – Because deep down I am still a party girl. riocarnival460 3. Live in Australia – Having had a taste for the Aussie way, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be. 4. Go to Base Camp – Just so I can feel like I am on top of the world. However, not looking forward to the two weeks of camping to get there. 5. See the Statue of Liberty – I have already been to New York, and we managed to do everything else on the list but that, and I always promised I’d go back. 6. Go dancing in a jazz club in Manhattan – Because last time I went I was only 19, and while I was hungover on the flight from a night in the Student Union, once we landed I was officially two years underage – boo! 7. Drive Route 66 in a Mustang – Because I have heard you just should. 8. See lions on safari – I love cats as everybody knows, so to see giant ones in the wild? Yes please! 9. Visit the Great Wall of China – Because I am a tiny little culture buff really. 10. Learn a new language – French has always been at the top of my list, I just wish I’d have paid more attention in school… 11. Visit Antarctica – The frozen continent at the end of the Earth that is only accessible a few months of the year? Man will never permanently occupy this beautiful place. 12. See Pearl Harbour – For the history 13. Write a book – Always wanted to, hopefully travelling the world will give me a story! writing 14. Niagra Falls – For the beauty. 15. The Maldives – I hear if global warming continues the way it is the Maldives will be underwater in my life time. 16. Bali – For the culture. 17. Drive the Great Ocean Road – It is supposed to be quite a journey. 18. See the Vegas Strip – I also need to see Britney (bitch) while I’m there. 19. Party in Buenos Aires – like Serena Van der Woodsen when she ran off in Gossip Girl. Not even ashamed of that reason. 20. See the Taj Mahal – being half Indian I should probably include some of my own heritage somewhere in the mix. I’m not going to lie, this list came out so fast I didn’t even have to think – there are so many other things I want to do that this list is just the start. I love the idea of going some place amazing, and sticking a pin in a map to decide where to go next. Lucky for me I will have my boyfriend and partner-in-crime with me – I wouldn’t do it without him. So while yes, we are purchasing our first house together like society says we should, it is a mere investment to fund us on our journey, and honestly, I can’t wait to see where we end up. Have you travelled the world? Tips would be greatly appreciated! – love Carla x

25 things: an update

As you may remember, last year I came up with 25 things I’d like to do.

Now, because I don’t really believe in New Year resolutions, this list has become my guide. It keeps me on track and takes the pressure off January 1 – so, in light of 2015 turning up, here’s an update:

1. Open a savings account

Savings

I opened an account on my 25th birthday and it is now where money is transferred to every month. Welcome to adulthood, Keeling – it’s about time.

2. Start taking care of myself

Taking care

This is one I didn’t think I’d take up, but I have. I joined a gym (toning, not cardio), started to eat healthily and drink plenty of water. I moisturise, go on lengthy walks and try to sleep for at least 7hrs per night.

3. Improve my posture

Posture

I have made a conscious effort to sit properly when I’m in the office and I try to stand up straight rather than my usual slouching.

4. Buy my own house

Home

Thanks to my savings account, and acknowledging that I am actually an adult, I’m currently in the process of saving for a deposit – WOOP! 🙂

5. Start a record collection

Record collection

I bought my first record, (Fleetwood Mac, Rumours – FYI) just after my birthday. For Christmas I received my very own Crosley record player and Clean Bandit’s record, so the collection is under way.

6. Write a book

Write a book

Still a dream, but one that is creeping forward into reality. Although I feel like I’m still waiting for ‘the story,’ according to quite a few people (friends and boyf.) my ‘ridiculous’ life is what the story should be. Hmpf.

7. Take up yoga

Yoga

This is one that I’m currently planning. I’ve eyed-up a yoga mat, downloaded an app and have perused the internet for classes at various gyms. It will happen.

8. Read all the books on my list

Reading

Okay, so the stack has actually increased in size – buying books seems to be an addiction. But, now that I am planning on being a hardcore saver (read: massive recluse), I hope to plough through my very own library.

9. Watch everything on my list

Films & TV

See 8.

10. Plan and take a road trip across America

Route 66

One day.

11. Move to Scotland (with a stop off in Yorkshire)

Iona

See 10.

12. See the Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Once my house is bought, I think this could possibly be one of the next holidays I have, along with Santorini.

13. Sleep under the stars

Sleep under the stars

See 10.

14. Go to New York at Christmas

New York

Ohhh, again – one day.

15. Fall in love

Love

I won’t make you all feel sick, you know there’s a boyf...

16. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

St. Patrick's Day

In all honesty, this is one that I hope to achieve by the time I’m 30. So far, I’ve made a Guinness cake and that’s about it.

17. Own my dream car

1967 Chevy Impala

If anyone can help with this one, I’d be forever grateful. Maybe when I finally head over to America for my road trip I’ll get my hands on either a 1967 Chevy Impala or a 1963 Mercury Comet…

18. Buy a pair of Louboutins

Louboutins

Should I ever get married, I will definitely splash out on the sparkliest of Louboutins – until then, I’ll stick with the high street 😦

19. Learn to run

Run

Yeah… this one isn’t going to happen any time soon. Sorry. Walking, yes. Doing weights and toning exercises, yes. Running, nah. Maybe one day, we’ll see…

20. Land my dream job

Ambition

After the shock demise of Phones 4u last September, I was lucky enough to find another job almost immediately. I was also lucky that my new job is very much within my desired sector, and after everything I learnt from the sudden redundancy, it’s my mission to make myself as valuable in my chosen career as I can.

21. Learn to cook (dinner party-style)

Dinner party

I may not be quite dinner party ready, but I am progressing in the kitchen. I cook and bake and continue to attempt to stretch my skills. I also watch a lot of James Martin and Jamie Oliver programmes, but that’s more of a guilty pleasure/secret crush thing…

22. Lay off the straighteners

Hair

Nowadays I’m basically a glorified hobo – I don’t straighten my hair very often, and I can usually be found make-up free and in jamas… But my skin and hair have greatly improved in doing so, so long live the tramp!

23. Rescue a dog

Rescue dogs

This is my ambition in life – retire, own a large plot of land and rescue all of the dogs. All of them.

24. Take the momma to Canada

Canada

I’m working on it…

25. Buy my dad a Jaguar E-Type

E-Type Jaguar

Ditto 24…

– love Stef x

2014: My year in pictures

Another year is near enough done and dusted.

For me, 2014 has been a collection of tremendous lows and tremendous highs.

But instead of making you all cringe with terrible phrases such as ‘it’s been a roller coaster’ or ‘new year, new me,’ I just thought I’d share a few snapshots of my 2014. Enjoy 🙂

January

New Year’s Eve with Nicci, my partner in crime // Bringing Denver home // Enjoying the Phones 4u afternoon tea

February

Denver meeting his bestie, George for the first time // Phones 4u girls night out // ReUNIon // Valentine’s Day as a singleton (thanks for the green badge to highlight it, Missoula) // Seeing Queen Bee

March

We may have gone to Rome…

April

Turning 25 // A ‘so Content team’ outing // Starting the record collection // Learning to wait for the rainbow after the rain

May

Being favourited by Joe McFadden (life complete) // Joining the 21st century and getting Netflix and watching The Office // Denv enjoying a random sunny day // Phones 4u night out

June

A SWHH night out in Manchester to celebrate Carla’s birthday // Download with the best baldie // Another Phones 4u girls night out (with champagne) // Meeting the boyf. and deciding to keep him around // Seeing the Eagles and giving in to the merch

July

Nicci & Laura’s birthday outing // Taking Momma Keeling to see Rock of Ages // Sampling Absinthe for the first time (and burning myself in the process) // Latitude with the bald one // A Keeling family selfie

August

The boyf. and Denv getting acquainted // Wedding season begins // My Laura’s hen do in Liverpool // Leeds Festival with Nicci and Beck

September

Momma Keeling & Big Les’ 25th wedding anniversary // Celebrating Laura’s last weekend of freedom // Losing Phones 4u and the best marketing department you could ever have // Laura & Kieran’s wedding

October

The final Phones 4u night out and saying goodbye to the greatest Content team // An autumnal Denv // Seeing Maverick Sabre // New job, new adventure

November

Being cocktail ballers with the boyf. in Manchester // Denv turning 1 // The two favourite males

December

The boyf. going to Thailand (and surviving) // Celebrating Beck and Sam’s birthdays // SWHH turning 1

So there you have it – my year in pictures. I hope you have all had a wonderful 2014 🙂

– love Stef x

Cocktails @ The Alchemist, Manchester

The Alchemist

The Alchemist

 

love Manchester, it’s one of my favourite places to visit.

On Saturday, to celebrate myself and the boyf. getting new jobs (both of us being victims of the fall of Phones 4u), we decided to have a little trip packed full of window shopping, GoPro purchasing and cocktail sipping.

Now, I’m not the most cultured of people *feign surprise* so I obediently followed the boyf. as he led us to Spinningfields and into The Alchemist.

The building is something I’ve probably walked past several times without noticing – it’s sort of discreet unless you know what you’re looking for – but inside was simply magical.

Quite busy for a Saturday afternoon, I was too preoccupied being in awe of the fairy lights and bartenders shooting across the mass array of bottles on a ladder to mind the crowds.

Promising that visitors will be ‘wowed by the team of mixologists as they push the boundaries of the Manchester drinking experience,’ I was handed a menu and felt myself immediately drawn to the Hot & Cold Espresso Tini.

And, I was definitely wowed.

The guys behind the bar were multitasking masters, taking our orders while making several other concoctions and lighting a bunsen burner – at this point I was convinced I was in a potions lesson and this building was clearly something to do with Hogwarts.

A few minutes and some dry ice nuggets later, I was handed a bottle half filled with chilled chantilly cream, half with bubbling hot espresso martini and a straw. Once melted, the two mixed together to make the most exquisite cocktail and I declared myself the happiest pig on the farm.

I definitely can’t wait to head back there, maybe for food and cocktails next time (boyf. that’s a hint)…

Have you been to The Alchemist? What cocktail did you test out?

– love Stef x

Redundancy: Being more than just a number

Phones 4u

On Sunday 14 September 2014, a business story broke on The Telegraph which sent 6,000 people in the UK into a whirlwind of panic, distress and disbelief.

Phones 4u had gone into administration and its employees were facing being out of a job.

Unfortunately, I was one of those 6,000. Based at the company’s head office in the marketing department, I had worked there for just under two years.

That Sunday night was a mass of phone calls, texts and unrest. Walking into the office on the Monday morning and being told that the stories were indeed true, before packing a box and leaving my work home in front of cameras and journalists was…surreal.

Realising I wouldn’t be going back was even more of a shock – delayed and hitting with the force of a sledgehammer.

But what compelled me to write this post was more to do with how everything was handled.

Did the journalist at The Telegraph know that the story they were being fed was leaked and that publishing it would be the first any of the Phones 4u employees would know about it? Probably.

And, as a trained journalist myself, I can only say that I understand why the profession is one that is treated by others with disdain. Yes, I understand the need to break a story, and yes I get it – being first with the news is every writers wet dream.

But honestly, for the most part, to that journalist all I have to say is a sentence filled with expletives.

Much like how I’d address the person at EE who leaked the story – aren’t you big and clever? I’m sure your bonus this year will be well worth it. Good luck when 6,000 former Phones 4u employees contracts run out and they switch from your network…

I know that in the words of The Godfather – ‘it’s not personal, it’s business.’ And yes, I understand that – part of me doesn’t blame them. But really, when you drill down past the corporate side, it is personal.

Stoke-on-Trent, the base for Phones 4u was an exception for that very reason – it’s head office wasn’t in London. It generated jobs for a town that has met a near demise since the fall of the pottery industry, and now we face the same thing again.

It was personal for the 6,000 people who had left work on a Friday thinking it was like any other working day, only to realise it would in fact be their last. Without prior knowledge, without warning.

It was personal for the employees who are husband and wife, couples, relatives – incomes instantly gone.

It was personal because EE and The Telegraph would’ve surely known that nobody other than Phones 4u’s CEO knew what had happened, and that the 6,000 would spend the next week not sleeping and unsure where the future lay as they were turfed out of their jobs without explanation.

Now, we will all come out of this situation better off – but it had to be said that the way in which things went down and how they were subsequently handled by the company, the networks, the competition and the media was pathetic and disrespectful to those who worked there.

We are more than just a number.

– love Stef x

School daze

Okay, so I spend a lot of my time daydreaming.

You know the sort of daydreams, where you come up with ridiculously unrealistic scenarios in your head and you just wish you could live it. Now I am at an age where I sit daydreaming about times that have passed, things I’d have done differently, and things I still hope to do.

When I was younger, my head wasn’t so away with the fairies as it is now. I lived in the moment if you like. I communicated with the people around me, enjoyed the long hazy days of summer, made new friends, lost old ones.

I still feel your teenage years are the best, it’s a time to be stupid, creative, make decisions and then change your mind. I almost feel sorry for the kids now, thanks to technology they can’t have the enjoyment of using their brains.

At school they have their phones glued to them, and yes I understand the need for safety so parents know where their kids are, but where’s the safety when an 11-year-old gets mugged for an iphone? Get them a 3310 and be done with – it serves its purpose without them becoming heavily reliant on it.

(Any of the younger generation reading this, a 3310 is an indestructible mobile phone, you’ll probably find one in a museum.)

And it’s not just the kids’ brains that are fried, they get away with a lot less thanks to technology – and I can’t help but feel sorry for them. Things are much more regimented now than when they were when I was in school. Gone are the times when you can skip French and doss at your mates house to watch Cartoon Network.

Now parents get a text if their child isn’t in a class. I’d merely be told off three days later by my tutor, who I fondly remember used to say: “Just don’t do it again, petal.”

Kids can’t even get creative with excuses anymore, “My friend was having an asthma attack in the toilet” was a common one, now what do they say, “I was charging my phone in the science lab.”?

As I got older you didn’t need so many excuses, and by the time I got to Year 11 they didn’t even try and make you go to your class, just as long as you weren’t disrupting anyone else they would leave you to it.

Many a maths class would be spent in one of the “sound proof” music rooms pretending to do coursework for all intents and purposes.

But kids with smartphones? I mean really? We all had mobile phones in school – I’m not that old – but kids seem to have lost the ability to put pen to paper. Do they not realise passing notes is fun?

We used to send the odd text to our mate in a different class but that’s about it, the phone was literally used as a phonebook, and only came to life once the last bell went.

Now you see them all huddled in groups playing Candy Crush or whatever other rubbish is free in the App Store at break time.

I fear the kids of today won’t be able to look back on fond memories like I am able to, they just don’t know how to have fun anymore.

They don’t use their imaginations and they barely look up from a screen long enough to acknowledge you. And these kids are our future. 

There is something innocently beautiful about having your head in the clouds, and I fear that the kids are just plain missing out.

I vote we ban kids from having smartphones, and issue them all with an old school Nokia.

Bring back the daydreamers!

– love Carla x