Last month I was lucky enough to be invited to my first ever blogger event – an Indian cooking night, #CookWithHari, with the lovely Hari Ghotra.

My regular blogging schedule has definitely lapsed a bit recently. Attempting to balance the time demands of a full-time job, various family commitments, a new relationship, and a blog, has left me feeling slightly worn out, but predominantly very happy. That is, if I can manage to supress the panging feelings of guilt I regularly experience when I think about how much I’ve neglected my blog over the past month!


My younger brother, Hugh, joined the army earlier this year. I think it’s safe to say that we had never really seen eye-to-eye growing up together. Hugh and I were always very different people, and his passion for his future military career baffled me in some ways. While I might not have always completely understood Hugh’s passion for the armed forces, I do now completely support it, so when the time came to celebrate my brother’s achievements with his passing out parade, I confirmed my attendance in writing (as per the strict military instructions) immediately.


If I’m being totally honest, life has been fairly slow recently. I’ve settled into my new job as a barista (and become a bit of a coffee snob along the way), I’ve thumbed my way through three Lonely Planet books in preparation for my travels, and I’m actually managing to get to the gym a few times a week. It turns out the fear of looking like a blob on a sunny Australian beach is a great motivator.


This year, in preparation for my big trip, I’ve vowed to participate in #NoSpendNovember to help me save some much-needed funds. This attempt to economise has meant that I’ve recently been on the look out for things to do in London that won’t break the bank. So as soon as I spotted Ann Veronica Janssens’ completely free ‘yellowbluepink’ installation on Secret London’s Facebook page, I just had to pay it a visit.


In the run up to my big trip I’m finding myself becoming more and more attached to London. While I would definitely say I’m excited to set off and see the world, I’m also beginning to realise what I’m leaving behind. In less than three months time I’ll be travelling to the other side of the world, entirely on my own; it’s something that I’ve never done before and it’s starting to feel a bit daunting. Last Saturday really hit this home for me, because it was the day my three best friends and I all reunited to celebrate our lovely Kirsten’s 22nd birthday.


So last Wednesday was the day of the Great British Bake Off final. If you’re not from the UK you might not have heard of this miraculous programme; if that’s the case I urge you to find a way to watch it if you can. There’s no shouting, no negativity, no exploitative ridicule of the less-talented contestants, and no sob stories. It’s so refreshing not to hear the phrase “this just means so much to me”, gushed every five minutes à la the X-Factor or American Idol.


I can’t quite believe we’ve slipped into October. As the weather gets colder, it seems only natural to seek warmth indoors. Curling up with a hot chocolate in front of a crackling fire might be an autumn cliché, but I’m sure most of us would agree that it is a wonderfully comforting image.


It seems like I’ve had a bit of long-overdue good luck recently, because a few weeks ago some of our family friends invited us to come with them to Wembley Stadium to watch the Ireland v Romania Rugby World Cup game. Unsurprisingly, Mum and I jumped at the opportunity to go, and last Sunday the big day finally arrived.


I didn’t know if anyone would actually be interested in hearing solely about the planning stages of my 2016 trip, but I thought that as I’m going to be blogging about the time that I spend there, it might be nice to do this from start to finish. Today I started my journey in a way, because today I booked all the flights, insurance and tours that I had planned. I am now considerably less financially stable, but I’m far happier knowing that this trip isn’t just some vague idea anymore; it’s now a definite plan. At 8am on January 16th 2016 I will be leaving the UK and jetting off on (hopefully) the trip of a lifetime.


After a slight adjustment to my plans after leaving university this year, I made the decision to commit to a return to education in September 2016, to complete an MA in Women’s Studies.


My ex-boyfriend’s mother, Sue, used to be like a kind of ‘second mum’ to me. On occasions and big family gatherings she used to make this dip. Artichoke hearts have always been one of my favourite foods; when I was younger my mum would buy huge jars of them from Costco and I used to stand by the fridge with a fork eating them out of the jar when Mum wasn’t looking. It’s no wonder then, that this has become one of my all-time favourite recipes.


1. Climb Kilimanjaro
2. Go bungee jumping (Queenstown 15/04/16)

3. Go skydiving (Franz Josef Glacier, 12/04/16)
4. Run a half marathon


Last week I was lucky enough to have the chance to see Les Enfant Terribles’s most recent production at the London Waterloo Vaults, ‘Alice’s Adventures Underground’. I wasn’t going to write about this because the show has just closed, and I felt it would be a bit harsh to go on about how great it was if nobody would be able to enjoy it in the future. However, today the company sent out an email to say that the production would be back in 2016 – you can even sign up to a mailing list so you know when tickets are available – and I felt it was my duty to thoroughly recommend this experience.


I have recently been through a truly traumatic experience. An experience that has changed the course of my life so dramatically I'm still struggling just to accept that it has happened. However, I won't say any more than that because this kind of trauma doesn’t particularly need to be plastered all over the internet (as tempting as it might be to publicly expose the despicable individuals who were involved for what they really are).


Although the weather has been slightly mixed recently - as it always is in the beautiful British Isles - I thought I'd share the recipe for a drink I put together the other day that provides a real taste of summer, and can cheer up even the gloomiest of days.


So a few weeks ago – in the midst of my university third-year dissertation hell – I received a message from Baker Days asking if I’d like to review one of their letterbox cakes and I immediately cheered up. Little did they know, as I hadn’t tweeted about this previously, I had ordered from their company before. On my ex-boyfriend and I's first anniversary a few years ago I had surprised him with a letterbox cake as I couldn’t be with him in person (long distance relationship problems). Although I received some very cute pictures, I was much too far away to have a slice. So needless to say I was thrilled to be asked for my opinion!

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