Changes

For the observant among you, you may have noticed an aesthetic change to the blog. For the even more observant, you may have also noticed a slight alteration to my URL. I’ve switched from Blogger to WordPress and I couldn’t be happier. To me, this feels like the right direction for me to go with my little space of the internet. I hope that’s okay with you all.

There has been a lot of changes in my life over the past few months, but the key thing is my change of job role at work. I’ve gone from being an unqualified PR Apprentice to becoming a fully qualified PR Account Executive. The change hasn’t been massive in terms of the work that I’m undertaking, but I do feel a much greater sense of responsibility in my job right now.

I wrote a post on our company blog about my experience as an apprentice. You can read that here if you wish. I’m a real advocate of apprenticeships having been through one myself and seen the positive impact that it can have. I hope that I’ll have plenty more opportunities to talk outwardly about my apprenticeship experience on here in the future as I really do believe it’s helped to shape me as a person in some ways. I’m over the moon to have completed and passed, and I’m so glad that I have been offered a full time permanent position at Quantum.

Hopefully, over the next few months, you’ll start to notice a content change as well. I want to talk more about the things that I feel most passionate about: equality for all and mental health awareness. I’m hoping to get some good conversations started and perhaps make even a small impact on some people’s perceptions of issues that I feel should be discussed more.

As always, I’ll still be posting the occasional life update. Lots more photos and lots more fun. That’s what I’m hoping for.

I’ve missed blogging. Blogging has been a huge part of my life for years now. I set out to document everything from the beginning and that’s what I’m going to do more of now. I’m feeling focussed and ready to go.

Getting back into blogging…

At a recent work appraisal, I was talking to my Managing Director about some of the things that I’d like to achieve within the next year, both in and outside of work. One point of focus in our chat was this little blog of mine.
It’s been a chaotic few months to say the least. Truth be told, I’ve been struggling. There’s been a lot of things going on in my mind and really, I haven’t been in the best of places. It’s been tough but I’m getting through it and I’m so thankful for the support I’ve received from those around me. I’ll probably write more on it in the future, but for now I want to keep this as lighthearted as possible.

Aside from some of the negative things I’ve been going through, there have been many good moments over the last few months that I’m sure I’ll get round to sharing with you at some stage. Not every day has been a good one, but the good ones have been incredible.

By way of a quick life update, I have been working my butt off to complete all my coursework for my apprenticeship, which will be submitted next week for marking a week after that. I’ve got my final meeting with my assessor on the 27th October, and on the 28th I will be an officially qualified PR practitioner. I was absolutely delighted to be offered a permanent position at my current place of employment when I complete my apprenticeship, so from the end of October, I will be an official, full time and permanent, PR Account Executive.

I’ll be back within the next couple of weeks to update you further on things. I hope that the posts will become more regular on completion of my apprenticeship coursework. I’ve missed these little ramblings and I thoroughly look forward to chatting with you all again soon.

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How time flies…

I cannot believe it’s been three months since I wrote this post in celebration of Ben and I being together for six months. It’s crazy that it’s been nine months since we became official partners in crime.
These past three months have been pretty tough. Ben’s been back at home in Aylesbury, as he’s been on summer holidays from uni (thank goodness he’s back next weekend!) and I’ve been getting by in Kent. I’ve spent lots of weekends visiting him which has been really fortunate – if a little tiring – for me. I love spending time with Ben, it is my favourite thing to do.
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1. We went on our first mini holiday together at the start of August with a couple of our friends and their son. It was beyond delightful and I think we all had a pretty great time. It was my first time properly camping and I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it nearly as much as I did. The weather was beautiful, the vibe was super chill and honestly I wish I could have getaways like that every weekend. Positive days with positive people are the best thing for me. I got a little way too sunburnt and was in pain for several days afterwards, but it was so worth it. Note to self: take Ben’s advice and wear more suncream next time.
2. Over the bank holiday weekend, I was up in Aylesbury enjoying a lovely break from work with Ben’s family. My clear highlight was a beautiful day picnic-ing at Ashridge Monument. The weather was lovely, the food was fantastic and the company was, always, better than I could ever have hoped for.
3. Ben and I now have matching necklaces. They’re so beautiful and we’re so happy with them. His is black and silver and mine is a sort of rose gold colour and silver, and they’re engraved with the words “I will always be with you”. I wear it every single day and love it so much.
 Benjamin Warner, you are the love of my life and the light in my darkest days. I love you more than you could ever imagine, my hero.

This Modern Love by Will Darbyshire

Received my copy of This Modern Love by Will Darbyshire on Monday. Finished it in one evening.
I think this is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. It’s a crowd-sourced collection of love letters and is divided into three sections: beginning, middle and end, much like how relationships work.
I didn’t put this book down. The words really spoke to me. Some of the letters told stories that were so relatable to my life, both now and in the past. I think that there’s something in this book that everyone can relate to.
Definitely worth reading if you get hold of a copy. Top marks to Will for coming up with such a spectacularly unique idea. I loved it from start to finish.

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The Highlights: June 2016

Some of the highlights:

Ben and I had a lovely trip to Hastings and played several rounds of crazy golf

– Heading to a dessert restaurant with Kat, Mat and Ben

– Visiting London Zoo!

– Visiting the Natural History Museum and seeing Mamma Mia! with my parents and sister

– Making many new beauty purchases

– Zachary’s christening

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The A-Z of me…

I saw something like this written by my lovely blogging buddy Tania and decided to give it a go myself.
The A-Z of me is exactly what it says on the tin – a way of helping you get to know me better, and a way of me killing some time while my family watch the England v Iceland match. The idea is simple: for every letter of the alphabet, think of a word that relates to you and your life.
Apprenticeship – something I decided to do rather than going to university, which has filled me with so much confidence and taught me so many lessons about myself.
Ben – my incredible better half. He makes me laugh daily and makes me feel like the most beautiful human being in the world. I’m very lucky to have him. I love him more than I can ever express.
Canterbury – one of my favourite places in the whole entire world. The place where I first met Ben. The place where I have some of the happiest memories.
Dance – something I used to a lot. Something I wish I’d never stopped doing.  
Ed Sheeran – my favourite musician.  
French bulldogs – I absolutely adore these creatures. Desperate to have one when I move out.
German – a language that I have a GCSE in, and a language that I’d love to learn again.  
Holidays – I haven’t been on many, but I’ll never forget the family trip to Malta.  
IPhone 6s – my current mobile phone.
Job – I’m a public relations account executive. 
Kent – where I have lived my whole life. A beautiful county in the south east of England.
Little Raj – where me and Ben went on our first proper date.  
Mental health – something I feel exceptionally passionate about, having struggled with anxiety over the passed few years. I’d love to do more to raise awareness and remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues around the world.
Notebooks – I have way too many of these. 
Orange – my favourite colour.  
Pasta – my favourite food!
Quantum PR – the company I work for.
Reading – one of my favourite things to do in my spare time. Currently reading the Harry Potter series.
Southern – my surname.  
Time – something I wish I had more of. 
Underwear – my favourite thing to buy.  
Vauxhall Corsa – my car. The most expensive thing I’ve ever owned. I love it dearly.  
Weekends – my favourite part of the week because I usually get to see Ben! 
Xmas – my favourite holiday season. Nothing beats the Christmas festivities.
YouTube – something I watch most mornings while I’m putting my makeup on before work.  
Zoella – my inspiration for starting my first blog.

Six months

soulmate
ˈsəʊlmeɪt/
noun
  1. a person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner.


Ben and I have been together for six months today. Six whole months of this beautiful blossoming relationship we’ve got going on. I’m so lucky to have him. He has supported me through everything and has made me feel beautiful and loved every single day. Never have I ever felt as happy and whole as I do right now, and that’s all thanks to him.

Benjamin, you make my bad days better and the good ones incredible and I love you more than you will ever know.
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54 holes later…

Last week, I was lucky enough to be able to take some time off work and spend it with my wonderful better half.  As it was his last week in Kent before the summer we decided that, as well as packing all his belongings and cleaning his flat, we’d go out for a couple of day trips.  On Thursday, we jumped into my car and headed off to the Hastings. Wikipedia describes Hastings like this:

Hastings /ˈhstɪŋz/ is a historic town and borough in the county of East Sussex, within the historic county of Sussex, on the south coast of England. The town is located 24 mi (39 km) east of the county town of Lewes and 53 mi (85 km) south east of London, and has an estimated population of 90,254,[2] which makes it the 66th largest settlement in the United Kingdom.[3]Historically, Hastings can claim fame from the Battle of Hastings, and later because it became one of the medieval Cinque Ports. Hastings was, for centuries, an important fishing port; although nowadays less important, it still has the largest beach-based fishing fleet in Europe. The town became a popular spot for ‘taking the waters’ (therapeutic bathing in the sea) in the 1760s, and then, with the coming of the railway, a seaside resort.

Hastings is a really wonderful place. It’s pretty lively, a lot livelier than I ever remember it being from when I was younger, but maybe that’s just because I didn’t have my parents telling me what to do this time. 

There’s quite a lot to do and see in Hastings. It’s 1066 town so it’s got quite a lot of historical significance. You can visit the castle and there’s also an aquarium and something called “Smuggler’s Adventures” which I went to when I was younger and remember being quite cool. 

Ben and I decided to have ourselves a little mini golf tournament this time instead of visiting anything in particular. It was brilliant from start to finish. 54 holes later and it was clear to us both that Ben definitely has a golfing edge over me. Nonetheless, it was lovely getting out and doing something completely different that we wouldn’t normally do. And for three different courses, it actually wasn’t too expensive either! 

We also headed to the amusement arcades on the pier, to waste some loose change on those annoying crane things that no one ever wins from. Regardless of the lack of prizes, it was probably one of the most enjoyable days I’d had in a while. 

Spending time with Ben is so important to me, and I’ve been fortunate enough to spend significant lengths of time with him since he came back to Kent in January after Christmas. We’ve been together pretty much every weekend and it’s been wonderful, but it’s always nice to visit somewhere new and do something different.

Our afternoon in Hastings was awesome and I’m definitely looking forward to going back some day (and hopefully beating Ben at mini golf this time!). 

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The Highlights: May 2016

Where did May disappear to? It absolutely flew by.

Some of the highlights:

– Bought some new stationery for work which put me in the best mood

– Spent many lovely weekends at Ben’s

– Went out for an after-work drink with some of my colleagues

– Visited Whitstable with Ben, a beautiful seaside town where we had an ice cream and a slushy and a really lovely day in the sun

– Celebrating five months with Ben

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Mental Health Awareness Week

This week (16-22 May) is Mental Health Awareness Week. Quashing the stigma attached to mental health patients is so important to me, so it felt only right to write a short post talking about mental health on my blog, something that I’m passionate about and something that has affected me in my own personal life. Today I wanted to talk about the chosen theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week: relationships.

The Mental Health Foundation’s aim is to lobby national governments, public bodies and employers to help tackle the barriers of building strong relationship foundations, as the relationships we have with other people are exceptionally important to our mental wellbeing. Good relationships between individuals and within communities are as important to our health as other factors including the amount of exercise we do and what we eat.
I have seen first hand how beneficial having solid, healthy relationships can be to your self-esteem and general wellbeing. In just over a year, I feel like I have grown and developed as a person. I was diagnosed with anxiety and mild depression last March, and I’m delighted that a year on I can say that I’m feeling a lot better about life. I’m not fully fixed, that’s for certain. I have panic attacks at times, and still have down days, but on the whole I have generally felt a lot more able to cope with all situations, more confident in myself and less worried about tomorrow.
I wouldn’t have felt nearly as okay going through CBT last year and dealing with the negative thoughts and feelings since I finished CBT if I had to go through it all alone. If it wasn’t for the lovely community of people who surround me: family members, colleagues, friends and, of course, my wonderful boyfriend, I highly doubt I’d be nearly as happy as I am now.
For anyone struggling, feeling sad or alone: speak to someone and things do eventually get better. A parent, teacher, colleague or friend, or a doctor if you feel you have no one else – communication has been key to my healing.
To find out more information on Mental Health Awareness Week visit mentalhealth.org.uk and get involved in the conversation by tweeting using #MHAW16.
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What shall I do next?

At the beginning of my time at sixth form, one question was on everybody’s minds: What shall I do next? I was fortunate enough to be given some advice on a variety of different after-school options, from charitable gap years around the world to university and everything in between.

The options were exciting to say the least, but also pretty terrifying. Here’s why: At the age of seventeen, I was expected to know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life – a terrifying prospect, especially considering that we are all living a lot longer than ever these days, and the retirement age in the UK seems to rise every other year.

I have no real complaints about my secondary school at all. I spent seven years of my life walking into that building every single day and created so many memories there. I learnt so much, not only in lessons but also outside of the classroom, and not always positive.  The only thing that ever bothered me about my secondary school was the limited information they gave me on apprenticeships when I decided I didn’t want to go to university. I was one of many that chose to not go to university in my year, and I think that the advice we were given wasn’t necessarily always right, not from my experiences since.

Today, I thought I’d put a few points together about apprenticeships which may or may not help those of you who are struggling to decide what you want to do next.

Apprenticeships are not worth less than a university degree

Apprenticeships are frequently considered inferior to degrees. Why? Mainly complete snobbery. To get into my apprenticeship there were requirements. I had to achieve particular grades in particular subjects at A Level, and go through an interview process. Doing an apprenticeship does not mean that you are less intelligent than those who go to university. Some of my friends at uni have even commented that they wish they’d done an apprenticeship, simply because it would’ve saved them a whole lot of money in the long run.

Apprenticeships are paid meaning you do not start your adult life in debt

Many of my friends who are studying at university are racking up massive debts. If you don’t budget properly it’s surprising how quickly you can go from having hundreds of pounds of loans and grants to being in your overdraft.As an apprentice, I am earning money. The current minimum apprentice wage is £3.30, but many companies are willing to pay more for trainee staff if they think you’re worth. Even if you are only being paid the minimum, it might not seem a lot of money but it’s a lot better than having nothing at all.

Apprenticeships help you gain something that many university courses do not offer: real life experience

The lessons that I have learnt since beginning my apprenticeship in PR have been incredible. I’ve gained so many skills, not only in PR but also more generic and transferable skills that I can take with me wherever I end up. Things I once found difficult, I’m increasingly finding a hell of a lot easier, and I’m exceptionally lucky to have such a supportive team of employees around me. In an appraisal last year, my managing director told me that he’s taken on staff straight out of university who have had absolutely no idea about how to behave in an office environment. Degrees give you so much valuable theory-based information, but it’s rare that they’ll give you the valuable hands-on experience that I have had since beginning my apprenticeship.  That’s not to say that doing a university degree is not worthwhile, and people learn lots of completely different lessons from attending university.

Let me know your thoughts on the “What shall I do next?” debate in the comments below.

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The Highlights: April 2016

April has been a rather non-eventful month as months go. Ben and I had to spend two weeks apart and as pathetic as it sounds, it was actually quite tough. Nonetheless, I’ve had some really great days this month and there have been many highlights.  Some of the highlights:

– A meal out with Ben’s friends in Aylesbury

– A lovely Sunday lunch with my parents, grandparents and sister

– Another lovely Sunday lunch with the above mentioned, my sister’s boyfriend and Ben

– Visiting the PRCA for my last ever in-London training session

– Reuniting with Ben after two weeks… best feeling ever

– Planning lots of fun activities for a week in May with Ben

– Celebrating my mum’s 50th birthday

– Seeing The Jungle Book at the cinema

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