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Challenge 2015 – Focus, Believe and Achieve

This time last year I remember my friends telling me that writing their dissertations was the most stressful thing ever and they didn’t think they’d make it to tomorrow. This time last year I was having the time of my life travelling Europe with my biggest problem being not knowing where to visit next. I really didn’t understand the fuss of it all, I mean final year couldn’t be that hard, could it?

The last four months working on my FMP have been the busiest four months of my life and 9-5 studio days with a maximum of 6 hours sleep a night are really starting to take their toll! If I’m not in the studio toiling my final collection I’m somewhere else doing work to prepare for more toiling, and if I’m not doing either of those I’m usually crying in a corner somewhere feeling guilty that I’m not doing any work at all!

This weekend I traveled back home for Easter, It’s been the most relaxing weekend probably since I was gallivanting off somewhere in Italy. By the time I got home last Thursday evening I was so exhausted from uni I was ready for some actual days off to let my hair down and have fun, and that’s exactly what I did.

Now that the weekend’s over I’m finding it really hard to get back into the swing of doing sketchbook work and preparing myself for the final stint of uni and actually making my collection. There’s a lot of work I’ve still got to do and I’m worried that I’ve been so bogged down with the amount of work there is that I’ve actually fallen behind!

I either need some sort of miracle to motivate me again or I need to stop getting distracted! Although I’d really love to believe in magic and miracles I’m very aware that they don’t exist, and if they did they certainly wouldn’t want to help me make it through my first world problem of finishing my degree; so I’m focusing on the latter.

I need to stop getting so easily distracted! I said at the start of the year in my first Challenge 2015 post that I want to cut down on social media because I really do waste so much time scrolling through Facebook and Instagram when I’m gaining absolutely nothing from it!

As a self confessed Instagram addict I’m holding an intervention.

I’m deleting Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. Only temporarily, of course, until I’ve finished my degree. I waste so much time checking up on what everyone else is doing and posting photos of what I’m doing and it’s truly pointless and is only going to harm what I can achieve in the long run.

I’m not deactivating my accounts, just deleting the apps from my phone and iPad which should hopefully be enough to keep me from getting distracted by them.

Fingers crossed this will help me to crack on with what’s important and get the best degree possible!

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Travel 2014 – Madrid

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I’m a little bit behind with this post but back in June I jetted off from Milan to Madrid.

One of my close friends Jenny was spending her Erasmus year studying over there so I thought it would be pretty rude not to visit!

Madrid was absolutely amazing! The week that I decided to go was incredibly hot so we spent a lot of time next to the pool with plenty of sangria to keep us going. When not lounging and soaking up the sun I actually got to explore quite a lot of Madrid seeing pretty much everything with my perfect tour guide!

Getting about, going out for meals, drinks, etc in the city were super cheap so that was an added bonus. On a couple of my nights there we went to rooftop bars which in Milan would be exclusive and come at a premium, but in Madrid were pretty cheap compared!

I really loved Madrid, not only because it was cheap but the lifestyle there seemed so free and easy. One of the nights I was there Jenny and I went to a Flamenco show it was just so much fun to watch, the audience really get involved cheering and clapping along.

Looking back on it, we managed to fit so much in to the tiny 5 days I was there! We had 2 pool days, one day long bike ride along the river, visited all of the site seeing attractions,  visited two rooftop bars, lots of Tapas, fought the crowds at the Sunday El Rasto market and so much more.

I think I started planning my return trip as soon as I left. It’s definitely a must see city, I think that what made it so special was having someone who knew their way around almost off of the back of their hand, knowing the easiest ways getting from A to B, and also living 30 seconds away from Gran Via!

Below I’ve posted a few of my ‘holiday snaps’ I’ve not made this a ‘Top 5 Places’ post because I think there are just so many more things that are really special in Madrid.

Temple of Debod

Temple of Debod

El Oso Y El Madrono

  El Oso Y El Madrono

Buen Retiro Park

Buen Retiro Park

Ayuntamiento de Madrid

Ayuntamiento de Madrid

Plaza de Espana

Plaza de Espana

To conclude, I think if I had to pick my favourite place in Madrid it would probably have been the Buen Retiro Park. It really was like something in a film! Unfortunately we didn’t go on one of the rowing boats simply because of the heat! Instead we just walked around the whole park chatting and found some pretty places to sit and watch the world go by (in the shade!) The more I think back to my trip I just remember how hot it actually was and on all of the days begging for stops for water!

I think that this was probably one of my favourite places of 2014. Thank you Jenny for having me!

Challenge 2014 – Review of My Year’s Goals

At the beginning of the year I set myself a few goals for the year to work on. Instead of them being the typical new year’s resolutions I wanted to focus on things that would really build me as a person.

It would be wrong for me to say that I was always thinking of the goals that I set myself, because I found it very easy to forget about them and sometimes was just too lazy to work on them!

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The first of my goals was to be more patient.

I do think that I worked on this a little bit but I do find it easy to slip back into a pattern of not wanting to wait for anything or anyone. I’m not the sort of person who can sit back and let something happen when I know that it shouldn’t, but on the other hand I have been a lot more patient when waiting for someone to do something they say they’ll do. You’ll either trust people to stick to their word, or you wont. So I have tried to be a lot more trusting this year, I’ve tried to stop being as much of a control freak and I think that kind of ties in with my first goal.

Secondly I said I wanted to admit when I’m wrong.

I found this one a lot harder because I am probably one of the most stubborn girls you’ll ever meet – and I’m never wrong. Admitting that I’m wrong, like I said in January really isn’t something that I do. When I really can see that I’ve caused a problem, or made a mistake then I’ve no problem with apologising, but sometimes I really can’t see any harm so I find it a lot harder! I think that this is one of my goals that will have to roll over to 2015.

My third goal was to work on my Italian.

After the New Year I really did try to improve on my Italian and I think that I did manage to pick up a little bit more of the language! I downloaded nearly every app on  my iPhone that I could find, (Memrise, Duolingo, Busuu) and worked on it particularly on warm sunny days that I could sit in the park and enjoy the heat at the same time. There’s no way that I’m amazing at Italian now, I’m still only at a beginners level, but it’s something that I want to keep working at because I think it’s a really useful skill to have!

Forth on my list was to make more friends.

This is one that I didn’t really have too much of a problem with once I came out of my shell in Italy I found it really easy to make some amazing friends. I can now say I have friends for life from places all over the world and I’m so happy for it. As soon as I opened up a little bit more I found I was having the most amazing time and then found it really hard to say goodbye when I had to leave in July!

The next goal was to draw more.

I set myself the goal of completing one drawing per week, resulting in 52 drawings in one sketchbook. I think I got to about 10 drawings and then became too lazy to carry on. There’s no doubt that throughout the year I did a lot more than 52 drawings in my work or doodles on paper but I wanted to have just one place where I could record my sketches and practice to see my improvements, and simply draw for the pleasure. I think that this is another one of my goals that I’d like to carry forward to 2015, and hopefully stick to.

My sixth goal was to travel.

This one doesn’t need much of an explanation especially if you look back on my posts from the last year. 2014 has definitely been the best year for travelling. I’ve managed to fit so much in and got to see some amazing places. I did spend a lot of money to see all of the things I wanted to see this year but it was an opportunity I wasn’t going to quickly give up. I couldn’t even say my favourite place I’ve been this year, I have loved every destination.

My next goal was to learn to take a good photograph.

I’ve taken a LOT of photos this year. Some have turned out good and some have turned out bad. I’ve experimented a lot with my camera and I think I love it more and more every time I use it. I’ve learnt especially that a filter on Instagram doesn’t always make your photo look better, sometimes it really makes them worse! I’m learning more about my camera every time I use it and try to use it on manual settings as much as I can to ensure I’m getting the most I possibly can out of it.

Another goal was to be more healthy.

This one is a typical new years resolution that 99% of the population say on the 1st of January every year, but by 5pm are stuffing their faces with more chocolate and more crisps. I didn’t want to restrict myself and say that I can’t have things that I want because I know that some unhealthy foods make me happy from time to time. I have managed to cut down a lot on eating sweets, chocolate and crisps, especially over the last 6 months. I do try to cook from scratch whenever I have the time and genuinely enjoy my meals a lot more when I do! I’ve started drinking water lots more (usually with squash, I hope that’s not cheating) and I feel so much better for it!

Finally I said I wanted to create more.

This one got left from the start really, I try to make little things here and there, but I’ve really not done any more than I usually would throughout the year! The start of the year was a lot better as I was doing a hands on course in Textiles and Knitting I made my own fabric samples using embroidery, embellishment and knit and I did find it really fun. I can only do as much as I can do and where I’m on quite a creative course anyway, sometimes it’s nice to sit back and take a break from it rather than stay constantly submerged in beads and fabrics!

Reflecting on the goals I set really has made me see that this year has been amazing and I’ve managed to get so much out of it! I keep thinking that this year has gone so quickly but when I sit and think back to everything I’ve achieved January seems like so long ago! I’ll be posting my challenges for 2015 over the next few days so that I can give myself something else to work towards over the next 12 months!

Travel 2014 – Top 5 Places – Venice

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Since returning from Italy I’ve had so little time on my hands that I have almost a million places I’ve visited with no blog posts about them. As I have a gap in my schedule after finishing my first module for my final year I’ve decided to catch up with myself and reminisce on all the amazing times I’ve had over the last year.

I went to Venice for the first time a few days after my Birthday, so back at the end of April/ beginning of May. It was about a 3 hour train journey from Milan to Venice (including delays, it’s Italy after all!) I went with my Mum, as she’d been before it was great to have a tour guide who knew exactly what everything was called and (nearly) knew the way everywhere we wanted to go!

We decided to get a day ticket on the water bus as although it was pretty expensive my mum said that there’s no better way to see Venice than from the water. We started our journey at the train station and caught the bus all the way down the Grand Canal. It really was the best way to possibly see it, and although the bus was pretty busy and pretty expensive it was definitely worth it.

I went to Venice again a couple of weeks later as I felt I couldn’t really do it all in a day, and that way I didn’t feel pressured to cram everything in to one rainy day.

Below you can see my top 5 things to see and do in Venice!

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Saint Mark’s Square is the heart of Venice. This is where the boat from the train station first dropped us. It’s absolutely packed with tourists gawping at the beautiful, ancient architecture.

The square itself is the centre of the maze which is Venice. There are what seems to be hundreds of narrow passageways leading towards the square each scattered with unique shops and restaurants. The square is home to the bell tower, cathedral and a host of posh eateries and champagne bars that my purse would never even dream of letting me visit.

Every hour the square fills with people as they wait for the clock tower to chime and the bronze figures on the terrace to strike the bell.

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The Rialto Bridge is probably the busiest bridge I think I’ve ever been on. It’s a stone bridge with two rows of built in shops that apparently were once market stalls connecting the two districts of San Marco and San Polo. The bridge itself has stood in place for nearly 500 years so it’s obvious why it’s such a landmark!

The Rialto is made from marble that has worn so beautifully it really is something that has to be appreciated up close.

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Going to the top of the bell tower was something I didn’t manage to do on my first trip to Venice, but it really was worth the wait! You get the most spectacular views of the city and really get to marvel at its size. From above, it seems as if Venice is on land and it’s easy to forget that between every couple of buildings there is flowing water.

The bell tower itself stands at 98 metres tall and is over 1000 years old, when you think about that and think that thousands of tourists trek to the top of the tower every year, it makes it even more amazing that the tower still even exists.

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The Grand Canal is something that doesn’t really need too much of an explanation. This is one of the things that you don’t need to make too much of an effort to see in Venice. It’s basically the ‘highstreet’ of Venice and is the most important route in the city for getting around, that is unless you want to walk! It’s easy to forget that there are actually no roads in Venice and if you want to get somewhere you either have to walk, or take a boat.

The river’s road system is non existent and there are boats speeding in every direction. It’s mesmerizing to watch especially if you can drown out the sound of chaos with the peaceful lapping of water.

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The Cathedral in Venice is something that really shouldn’t be missed. It would be easy to spend hours on end exploring the inside and admiring the extensive work that’s been put in to both its interior and exterior.

It again is hard to believe just how old this building is as construction is said to have started nearly 1000 years ago.

There’s lots to see inside the cathedral and lots of extras that you can pay for, which I’d definitely advise you do! My favourite part of the cathedral was the outside terrace over looking St Mark’s Square, as although you can see this from the top of the bell tower it really doesn’t get boring!

Venice really is now one of my favourite places I’ve ever visited and nothing that I can say would do it justice. If you’ve not been before it’s one of those places that you have to see to believe as you just can’t even begin to understand how easy and how exciting it is to get lost in the maze of seemingly floating buildings and bridges.

It’s a place you’d only imagine in a fairy tale, just with lots of other people there – A place to visit before you die.