It’s been a good few months since I sat down and wrote a blog post that was more on the chatty side rather than all planned out in my notebook. As this one is a little more personal I thought it would be better to do from the mind > fingers > blog post and speak a bit more from the heart.
I’ve been reflecting lately on the beginnings of my adventures into the blogging world and although it’s not even been one whole year since I began this blog and started taking it seriously, I feel really proud that I’ve kept it going and still love posting.
From the get go, this blog was for me to use as not only a hobby to keep myself busy but as a diary, where I can share my life experiences and have a place to look back on my emotions during that time and how I’ve grown since.
If you’ve followed my blog over the year, you’ll have seen how I have brushed upon my life as a university graduate to becoming a carer for my Mam (I wrote about it here). It’s not been easy, that’s for sure.
To put it straight, I don’t work. Not because I don’t want to. I’d love to be settled in the PR industry by now, which has been my dream since I was in school, but unfortunately for now my career pursuit is placed on hold whilst I look after my Mam. A job nobody truly wants to be faced with but also a role I’d never turn down in a million years.
It can be unbelievably disheartening, seeing all your friends becoming successful and earning proper adult wages but having this small space on the internet to call my own has truly helped to keep my mind focused and my toes in the writing world.
Even more so, the opportunities and support from not only local bloggers but from the online community has been incredible and it’s so nice to be apart of something so positive and uplifting. It can truly be a light in dark times!
I’d love to hear some other stories about why bloggers have created their blogs and what keeps them going. I’m tagging:
Firstly, before I get into this weeks post, I am THRILLED to announce that after almost three months of being locked out of my Twitter account, I have regained access! (*cue the audience cheers*) Hopefully, this means I’ll be more motivated to get back into the full swing of blogging without feeling completely out of the bloggers loop, like I have been these past months.
Yesterday, I was very kindly invited to another North East blogging event, this time ran by the lovely people of giffgaff: gameplan, at the Hilton Gateshead and I thought I’d give you a little run down of how it went!
You probably know giffgaff as the popular mobile network. However the company have started on another venture into the world of personal financing! The network have launched a saving money website, which allows you to compare energy prices, car insurance, loans and credit card providers. The site also offers a free credit report so you can be on your way to building your dreams and budgeting to keep on top of it all! You can find giffgaff:gameplan website here.
The event revolved around finances and money management, a topic which I think most of us tend to just assume we know enough about to breeze by in life. However, since finishing university and being shoved into the real world, I’ve found that I need to know a lot more than just the basics of how to understand financing. It’s all so adult.
Upon arrival to the event, we were welcomed warmly with a glass of wine and had time to mingle and enjoy the view of the Tyne Bridge before being ushered into our workshops.
WORKSHOP ONE: Everyday Savings
The first workshop was based on ‘Everyday Savings’ and was ran by the charming Eileen Adamson of Your Money Sorted. Eileen talked about ways of saving on interest through paying just that little more than the minimum on credit cards paybacks and mortgages, meaning you are not only saving yourself a nice bit of money to spend how you like but can pay it off even earlier! I honestly would never even think to pay back more than the minimum, I sort of just go with the flow but I’ll 100% be taking Eileen’s advice on board.
We then enjoyed some interactive activities, including spending habits bingo, Jenga (which encouraged us to mingle and feel more comfortable discussing money), scheduling a meal plan for the month to aid in stopping the need to buy more than the essentials, which I am very guilty of! We then shared websites and apps that would help to both make money and save money, including Plum and Chip, two apps that work with your bank to save a small amount from your current account and build up savings.
Apps for earning and saving money
Ranks of best companies for haggling success
Monthly meal plan
By the end of the workshop, I really felt like I’d not only learned new ways to save and find great deals but also felt more confident about discussing money around my peers. I’ve always sort of shied away from the topic completely, when, like Eileen said, we don’t talk about money enough and it should be a more comfortable social discussion. Hey, with my new found confidence I might even try haggling!
We then stopped for a little buffet break and enjoyed some of the food that Hilton had to offer. This is always the part of any event where I feel like I’ve been so lucky with the opportunities my blog has given me, especially with not even having it a whole year yet! I had a lovely little chat with Yasmina, Kate and Becka about all things rom coms and snacks before making my way to the last workshop of the night.
WORKSHOP TWO: Bad Credit/Credit Score Advice
The second workshop was ran by the expert of credit, Karyn Fleeting of The Miss Thrifty Blog. If I’m being completely truthful, I went into this workshop only know the bare minimum about credit and most of my knowledge came from passing conversations with friends. Being only 22, I thought that credit would only affect me when I get a little bit older but Karyn has put me in a much better relationship with understanding that credit should be given more attention, no matter what age.
Karyn talked us through how to check our credit score, using Experian, Equifax and CallCredit, what each rating would mean for future referencing and the importance of a high credit score when applying for a loan or a mortgage. Karyn then went on to advise us on how to inflate our credit score through paying bills on time and avoiding payday loans, before demonstrating how to repair a credit score if it’s all looking a bit downhill, with a credit rebuild card and a smidge of patience.
As I said previously, I had such a small amount of understanding on what credit truly was and how it would affect the way I spend, loan and prepare for my future. Thankfully, after Karyn’s incredibly helpful workshop, I’ll now be more wary of my credit score and keep top tip on making sure it’s as high as possible. I even checked my score as soon as I got back to the house! Keen bean.
To round up the event, I had a great evening and loved being in the company of other bloggers once more. It’s so nice to feel part of your local blogging community and put real life faces to blog names!
Thanks to the workshop speakers, giffgaff:gameplan, Jennie and Alice for organising the event and inviting me and the staff at the Hilton Gateshead for making us all feel very welcome.
In a week full of firsts: England winning their first ever penalty shootout at a World Cup, the first ever successful double hand transplant in the UK and the first time Georgia had her heartbroken on national TV show, Love Island (we love you gal!). I attended my first ever blogging event!
With only starting my blog at the beginning of the year, I was absolutely overjoyed when I received an email inviting me to a bloggers event in Newcastle. Me? Little Nel? Getting an invite to mingle with other bloggers and learn useful tips? I’m there!
I’m not going to lie…I was bricking it. I spent the week running up to the event worrying about feeling the odd one out, panicking that no one would like me and the biggie, I knew no one on a personal/friendly level. However, when I arrived at the venue, I bumped into Ruby and Helena, who were more than lovely and allowed me to tag along with them.
The lovely team at Viking teamed up with professional photographer Elouisa Georgiou to create a Digital Photography Masterclass at The Botanist. A gorgeous venue, that was ideal for us bloggers who love a good picturesque environment! The masterclass was based around teaching us how to look more carefully at camera settings, lighting and the ways we can alter aspects of a set up to get the prime shot.
Firstly, as we all sat with complimentary prosecco in hand (massive brownie points to the genius behind the free booze), Elouisa talked us through some of the basics of manual photography, an area that was completely alien to me as I usually just stick my camera on auto and hope for the best. Talking about ISO, aperture and shutter speed, it allowed us to get a sense of how to change our settings depending on the light, the motion of the subject and shooting products in the foreground and background.
After the talk, we were encouraged to try some of the things we’d been taught for ourselves. Chatting to fellow bloggers Niamh, Rachael, and Cat, we soon found out that none of us really had any idea how to use our cameras or where to even begin.
The first task we had were flatlays. I think most bloggers dream of having dreamy flat lays of beautiful products and food but the reality is, it’s a faff if you don’t know what you’re doing and can’t get a nice result. Elouise really helped with understanding how to frame the photos and how to use my camera to increase the quality of the shot. I’ll definitely be giving flatlays for of a go with my newfound flatlaying confidence!
We also played about with bounce boards and prisms to manipulate light and eradicate shadows. I’d honestly never thought about adding different textures and light flares to my images to make them more interesting, but after having seeing some of the other bloggers photography with the use of prisms, I’ll be trying it out!
Practising flatlay photography
Manipulating light to get the perfect shot
Reflecting images to create pattern and texture
Once we’d had our fun, we all sat down for some delicious food and a cocktail on the house whilst our photos were being printed for Elouisa to judge. I loved hearing all the different conversations of how varied people’s lives are but we all found our way to blogging as a hobby and outlet.
Elouisa then chose her winner of the photography competition, it was time to say goodbye! We were all given a tips and tricks sheet running over everything that had been said so we could practise at home and we even got given a tripod as a pressie!
Thank you to Viking and Elouisa for the invite and being so welcoming.
I had the best night with lovely people in a gorgeous surrounding and learned so much about photography and camera settings that I hope and pray can help me improve my photos. Watch this space!
Today I bring you a post all about my experiences with cancer and the journey I am currently on. If I had been writing this post in 2015, I would have nothing really to say about cancer other than it has affected me through the deaths of grandparents and family friends, to which I was too young to truly understand. However, in 2016 my mother was diagnosed with a grade 4 glioma which is most commonly known as a terminal brain tumour and now I feel like I have enough reason to talk about cancer and my experiences in case any of you out there are looking to not feel alone within this journey.
Firstly, all cancer experiences are different. There are countless types of cancers and treatments that work depending on the person diagnosed. For my family, there were no signs or indication that my mother had a brain tumour, other than having a seizure which was followed by a CT scan that uncovered swelling in the brain caused by an anomaly. Before this, my mother was in great health and complained only of mild headaches once in a blue moon.
Hearing this news was devastating. I cried endlessly for weeks and found it difficult to process what was really happening. We had a number of appointments with surgeons and specialists, my mother underwent a biopsy to certify what type of cancer we were dealing with and the grade. Unfortunately, the results were that they were unable to operate due to the placement of the tumour and they could only offer other means of treatments in the hope to prolong my mothers life. Obviously, this was another blow and I clearly remember sat thinking in the surgeons office after he had given us the news, that I was only 20 years old and I NEEDED my mother, this had to be some sort of horrid dream.
However, I feel like I also matured very quickly, becoming a support system for not only my mother but my father who was equally as worried and heartbroken. We met with another specialist and she explained that they could offer my mother radiotherapy and chemotherapy to shrink and stem the growth of the tumour, if the desired effect co-operated with her body. Being the strong and determined woman my mother is, she immediately accepted any help she could get.
Radiotherapy was what my mother lose most of her hair but other than that she had basically no side effects of the treatment which was a blessing as I had heard and read horror stories about what can possibly happen.
Chemotherapy, however, is what I was most worried about after seeing it depicted in films and tv shows. I was petrified incase my mother became extremely unwell and for the treatment to not work as we had all hoped. Thankfully, she responded amazingly to the chemotherapy and once again we were very lucky as she was barely affected by it, in terms of general health and sickness at all.
As of December 2017, the tumour has been shrank by the treatments and so far has been stemmed from growing, which is the best possible result we can hope for. From now on we take each day as it comes and are thankful for all the time together we get to spend. I can’t thank the NHS enough for everything they’re doing and continue to do for my mother and others like her.
Cancer is terrifying. There is no doubt about that and nothing can prepare you for dealing with it. It’s more of a “keep going, keep positive and keep hoping” mentality that you have to take on and if you need to talk to anyone about getting help then there are some amazing charities such as Macmillan, who help with everything from financial issues to fundraising. If you are looking for advice on brain tumours specifically, The Brain Tumour Charity are extremely helpful.
There is a good chance I’ll be writing more about my experiences and how I dealt/deal with them in the hope that someone who really needs the advice finds my posts and feels a little less lost and alone.