Going At My Own Pace

About a month ago I was saying on Instagram how I'm going to quit blogging.  How the race to keep up with the crowd, the stats, the constant noise on Twitter within the blogging community was getting too much for me.  Blogging and social media was wearing me down, and I'd had enough.

In that time, apart from working on my Etsy Shop, I deleted the Facebook app from my phone (I only keep my account active to keep in touch with my family in America), I came off of my personal Twitter account for a while, and sharing photos on Instagram has been intermittent, and probably will continue to be that way going forward.

The thing is, I don't want blogging to take over my life like it feels like it has over the past five years.  I don't want to spend a big chunk of my weekend trying to get that 'perfect shot' for an upcoming blog post.  I don't want to worry about shorter days as the Autumn nights start to set in, and I don't want blogging to feel like such a chore.  Like 'I have to write that blog post to keep up with everybody else'.

In short, I wanted my life back.

I know how dramatic that sounds, but I genuinely felt like blogging was taking over my life. I felt like it was taking priority over my relationships, and I was feeling resentful of time that I believed was being wasted that I could be working on my blog, when in fact, I was spending time with the people I love, making memories and doing exactly what I should be doing after a long week at work.  Taking it easy.

Even during my break from blogging, the urge to write is always there.  It never goes.  Writing is my passion.  It's a part of me.  Just before starting to write this post I read this post by Jennie who it seems is feeling very similar to myself in terms of blogging and writing at the moment, and she's put her feelings far more eloquently than I ever could, but basically that's how I've been feeling.

So I've decided to return to this blog again, but things will be different around here.  I'm scrapping the reviews and the more "professional" attempts at blogging.  I feel pretty inadequate at it, and no doubt there will be hundreds more who have reviewed whatever I've decided to review far better than I ever could.  I really am going back to basics this time.  I'm going to treat this as more of an online diary.  Much more raw; somewhere for me to get all the feelings I bottle up in my head out in the open.  I find nothing more therapeutic than writing my feelings down, and I don't have any issues with sharing anything to do with my mental health.  I'm a huge advocate for being more open about mental health in fact.  I'm going to rely on less than perfect little iPhone snaps opposed to spending forever taking a photo of the perfect shot.  Most importantly, I'm going to blog when I want, how I want, with no pressure.

I want to share my travels, thoughts, feelings, days out, and all the little snippets of life in between, and most importantly, I want to find pleasure in the simple joys in life again.


Christmas at Disneyland Paris 2016 | Day 4

Oh hey there Disney series that I abandoned randomly a couple of months ago!

I thought it was about time I picked this series back up, as I have so much more travel related content I want to share with you over the coming months (Not just Disney related too!), but I couldn't move on to new content without seeing my Christmas Disney series through to the end!

So here we are, on day four of our trip, and this is the day we dedicated to Hollywood Studios!

Now, I thought this was the first time I ever stepped foot into Hollywood studios, but in actual fact I think I might have come to Hollywood Studios when I came on my school trip too.  The memories are vague, but I remember a "Honey I Shrunk The Audience" 4D Cinema experience that must have been in Hollywood Studios.

However, remembering literally nothing else about this park, it felt like I was stepping foot into for the first time, and I knew this park would be much more up Spencer's street too.  Being a little more focused around the animation, as well as having awesome areas like Toy Story Land and the French area for Ratatouille, this definitely had something for both of us.

Walking into the entrance of Hollywood Studios there was Mickey and Minnie to our left meeting and greeting in all of their Christmas attire, with the Earful Tower in the background; a sight I had been looking forward to seeing for a long time, and the incredible Fantasia themed statues in front of us.  Fantasia always reminds me of my childhood.  I watched it on repeat time and time again, but don't ever remember watching the entire thing in one sitting.  I don't actually know how long Fantasia is, but baby Siobhan clearly thought it was all a bit too much to consume in one (To be fair, that demon thing at the end is bloody terrifying too!).

I skipped the Mickey and Minnie meet and greet and headed straight for some photos in front of the statues before heading into the park itself.  Under the circumstances I still wasn't up to playing along with the characters, but I definitely know that the next time I visit I want to meet some of my favourite characters, including the main mouse himself!

Walking into the park we were greeted by Walt and Mickey.  I love this statue so much.  It's a sight I've wanted to see with my own eyes for a long time.  I know I know, technically I already have when I was 14 years old, but I don't think 14 year old Siobhan appreciated it quite as much!  She was just excited to be in a theme park on her own with her school friends!

I was most excited about going to see Mickey and the Magician this day, but it was a good few hours before it would be on, and there was plenty more of the park to explore.  We started off on the Studio Tram Tour, as with Extra Magic Hours, we pretty much walked straight on the tram.  I loved this little tour, and even though I'd seen it on goodness knows how many vlogs, I was still terrified when the truck rolled down the hill and set on fire!  You can really feel the heat!

Next we queued up for what has become my favourite ride in both of the Disney Parks in Paris.  Tower of Terror!  I have such a good story of this ride for the day of my birthday when we went on it again, but you'll have to wait until next week for that one!  This was my first time ever going on the ride though, and I had the most fun on it.  It takes a lot to make me scream, and I mean a lot, but every time this ride chucked us down I let out a little scream, then laughed at how ridiculous I sounded.  You get the most weird feeling in your stomach when you're being thrown up and down on this ride, but I absolutely loved it, and the views when the windows opened up at the top of the ride were just insane!

My second favourite ride has to be Crush's Coaster.  We almost didn't go on it because the wait time was around 45 minutes, but we went for it in the end, and in fact we only waited around 30 minutes and it was so worth the wait!  The noises coming out of Spencer when the ride really set off had me in absolute stitches!

We were getting closer to seeing Mickey and the Magician, but still had a little time to go on Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and head into Toy Story Land for a bit, where we went on the RC Racer ride and the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop.  Unfortunately the Slinky ride was down when we were there, but hopefully we'll get an opportunity to go on it again in the future.

After playing with Andy's toys for a little while it was time to head over and see Mickey and the Magician, and oh my goodness this was the highlight of my day!  Spencer slept through the entire thing (I wish I was joking!) whilst I sat and watched in awe at the most beautifully put together show.  All the classics were in there, and it was like I got a sneak peek at what the Lion King musical is like!  I'm definitely hoping I get the opportunity to see it again in the future before it finishes completely.

When the show finished it was time to head back to the Disney Park for our reservation at The Blue Lagoon; the Pirates of the Caribbean themed restaurant (Which I believe has now been renamed Captain Jack's).  I was so excited about trying this restaurant out after seeing it in so many vlogs.  In terms of setting and food, it didn't disappoint!  The restaurant is located right next to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, so you actually get to see people go past on the ride whilst you eat your food.  The ceiling is completely blacked out, and it's really heated, so even in the middle of November you feel like you've been transported to the Caribbean on a warm summer's evening.

The food was incredible too; the only downside was the service we received from the first waiter serving us.  Spencer obviously highlighted that he was dairy intolerant so asked what alternatives they had, and the waiter basically had the attitude of 'there's nothing he can do and tough luck', which you know, when we were paying as much as we were to be there, it kind of sucked to be given that attitude, and obviously under the circumstances, I was not in the mood for bad attitude for a member of staff who just couldn't be bothered quite frankly.  However, another waiter came over shortly afterwards and stayed with Spencer for a while figuring out alternatives that he could have.  A few moments later and Spencer was able to have a three course meal as we had paid for just like me.  Thank goodness for that lovely waiter who came to our rescue and salvaged our evening!

My only regret of the day was not getting fast track tickets for the Ratatouille ride.  My logic was that we could go on it the day after as we had reservations for Chez Remy, which is right next to it.  What I didn't take into consideration was that they may not have the fast track on when we were there (Which was the case!) and there was no way I was waiting in a 90 minute queue, so I'm yet to go on the Ratatouille ride!

After our meal we decided to get a fairly early night back at the hotel.  We were full, pretty exhausted from another early day, and we wanted to get plenty of rest so we felt ready for a day celebrating my birthday (As much as we could in the wake of my Mum's passing that is) the day after.

I loved Hollywood Studios, but feel like there's so much I left undiscovered, so I can't wait to explore a little more on my next visit!

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you catch up on days 1, 2 and 3!


Why We Chose To Donate My Mum's Organs

Many of you will know by now that my Mum passed away very unexpectedly last year after suffering from a severe aneurysm, causing a huge bleed to her brain, however, what you may not know is that once certain tests had been run, which determined that my Mum was not going to recover after a day of battling for her life, we as a family then had to make the decision if we would like to donate my Mum's organs.

I wasn't expecting ever to have this conversation with anybody, so was shocked when the Specialist Nurses came into the room to have the conversation with us.  After suffering through all we had, this hadn't even crossed my mind.

My Mum had never signed up to the organ donor register, and had never had a conversation with us about organ donation, which meant the decision was down to us as a family, and the choice was made between my sister, my Gran and I.  Claire, our specialist nurse was incredible.  She was very thorough talking us through the procedure if we were to decide to go ahead with the donation, and reassured us that my Mum, although technically no longer with us, would be treated with the utmost respect during the operation as she would be doing such an amazing thing.

Claire then gave us all the time we needed to make a decision.  I didn't really need to think about it all that long.  My Mum was always the person who put everybody else before herself.  She wanted to help and save everybody.  In fact, she once talked a young woman out of committing suicide by jumping in front of a train, so she had literally saved a life before.  For me it was a no brainer.  She would absolutely want her last act to be saving the lives of others who maybe wouldn't have had a chance otherwise.

Also, from a more selfish perspective, the idea that she would live on in other people brought me comfort.  I needed to feel like losing her wasn't completely in vain.  I'm not entirely sure how to put these thoughts into words, but I will try my best.

Eight months down the line I still can't help but feel her death was unnecessary, and wrong.  Not in that I believe the doctors could have done more.  The doctors, paramedics and nurses who looked after my Mum from beginning to end were all beyond incredible, and I cannot fault the care she received.  There was literally nothing they could have done to save her.  The aneurysm happened so quickly and was so severe that she was probably severely brain damaged beyond repair before she hit the floor.

I just can't comprehend it still.  I can't wrap my head around her death.  She was 52.  That's no age at all to lose your life.  It wasn't like she was ill for a considerable length of time, allowing me to adjust to the idea of her not being here any more.  It was like somebody blew out a candle.  She was there, and then she wasn't, and my head still tells me that it's not meant to be this way.  That she was supposed to live to be an old lady who would still be convinced in her old age that she would be the one woman on this entire planet who could turn Freddie Mercury straight.  My head still struggles to comprehend that this will never be.

So the choice to donate her organs makes this a little easier for me, knowing that there are parts of her helping other people to carry on with their lives.

My Gran seemed to be on the same page as me, but it was tougher for my sister, and I completely understood why.  She didn't like the idea of parts of my Mum being removed, yet understood the good that could come of it.  She was really torn, so in the end spoke to a family member a little more detached from our current situation who could give a more outside perspective.

My only concern was her making a choice she felt comfortable with.  I was worried she would say yes to the donation because she thought it's what my Gran and I wanted, not because she actually wanted to go ahead with it.  My one and only rule with this decision was that we only went ahead with the organ donation is all three of us decided on it.  If one was a no then we didn't do it.

My sister eventually came to the decision that she wanted to go ahead with it too.  I was still worried that she'd made the decision because she thought it was what everybody else wanted to hear, and not because it's what she wanted, but then when we were sat with my Mum on our own for a bit, she said she was really glad she'd said yes, which put my anxious mind at ease.

This did mean that everything was prolonged a little longer.  My Mum was booked in for her operation the morning after, and her body essentially had to be kept alive to keep her organs alive, so she was still on life support at this point.  This part was absolutely gruelling.  We were still free to go and see her right up until the operation the morning after, which on the one hand, gave us a little more time to say our goodbyes, but on the other hand it made saying that final goodbye a million times harder.  It all proved to be worth it in the end though.

Once the decision was made we had to fill some forms in, then Claire asked if any of us would like my Mum's hand print and/or a lock of her hair to keep.  I personally didn't opt for this, but my sister asked if she could have both, and we sat with Claire as she took a lock of my Mum's hair and took her print, packaging them both away so nicely for my sister to cherish forever.  It was such a lovely thing to offer, and I just felt overwhelmed with the wonderful support provided to us by the specialist nurses.

My Mum went down to the operating theatre at about 11:00am the morning after, and this would be the last time we would get to see her, but was certainly not the last time we would be in contact with Claire.  She called me after the operation had finished to let me know how it went, and to advise me that both of her kidneys had been matched to two recipients.  I would find out in about six weeks time how they would get on with them.

I'm incredibly happy to report that both recipients are doing very well eight months on.  The details on the recipients I have are vague obviously for data protection reasons, but what I do know is that they are two young men, in their early 30's.  One was on the register for just over a month, and one for just under a year.  Both were suffering from kidney failure, and would have died had they not received my Mum's kidneys.

Being the age they are, they could have young families, or have recently been married, so not only do I see it in the way that my Mum changed the lives of these two men.  I also see it in the way that she changed the lives of their families too.  It could mean that a child gets more years with their Dad, a wife more years with their husband, parents more years with their son, the list goes on.

Making the decision to donate my Mum's organs was single handedly the hardest decision I have made and will ever make in my entire life, but knowing those two men are here because of her, and because we made that choice is a wonderful feeling.

What I wasn't aware of at the time when we made this choice was that we would be invited to an award ceremony later in the year, where we will collect an order of St John Award in honour of what my Mum did.  Every single family of an organ donor gets invited to one of these ceremonies to honour the loved one who donated their organs.  It's not mandatory to go, but you can sure as hell bet I'll be there to accept that award on behalf of my Mum.  She saved the lives of two people; the least I can do is be there in her honour.

As a result of all of this, you can obviously imagine that organ donation has become a subject very close to my heart.  I don't feel upset ever talking about the decision to donate my Mum's organs.  I feel nothing but pride.  Knowing that something good came out of all the bad, and knowing that a part of her lives on somewhere.

Until all of this I hadn't really thought about organ donation, but I signed up for a card almost instantly after all this.  I made Spencer and my family aware that under the circumstance anything may ever happen to me, that I want them to honour my decision to donate my organs (A very important conversation you must have with your family if you choose to register.  Even if you're registered and carry a card, your next of kin still have the final say.), and I carry my donor card on me at all times with pride.

I obviously hope I live to be a little old lady who's earned her right to moan about 'kids these days', but in the chance I don't, if I have a bunch of healthy organs that could save other people, then I absolutely want that to happen.  I would be incredibly upset if I had some perfectly good organs go to waste.

I guess the point of this post is to raise more awareness about organ donation, from a very personal point of view.  I will respect any persons decision, and will never judge anybody if they choose not to donate their organs.  Believe me, I know how hard that decision is!  I do hope from reading this you would at least consider signing up to the register if you aren't already though.  The way I see it is if my life depended on a new organ, and somebody sadly passed away who was my match, I would absolutely take that chance, so why would I not do the same for somebody else if the tables were turned?


The Sunday Post #3 | Green Day and a New Instagram Account

What. A. Week.

I'm feeling really good about life this Sunday.  It probably helps that I'm off to Friends Fest this afternoon with some of my favourite people.  I have my Central Perk tee ready, and cannot wait to sit in that big sofa with a coffee in hand.  If they don't sell one of those giant Central Perk coffee mugs as part of their merch I'm going to be highly disappointed!

Also you can buy one of Ross's 'Moist Makers' too.  I might see what all the fuss is about.

I started off my week with a bang, not only starting my new job (Which seems to be going great just FYI), but also going to see Green Day at Sheffield Arena for the first time in about eight years.  Green Day are one of my absolute favourite bands.  I've loved them for about 16 years now, but I have to be honest, I was reluctant about the show.  The last time I saw them I was left pretty disappointed.  It was not long after American Idiot was released and Green Day were going through their political phase, so Billie Joe spent half the show preaching politics.  Although I do feel strongly about politics, when I go to see one of my favourite bands, I expect to escape all the stresses of the world, not have them shouted at me over a mic for an hour.  I almost didn't go to see them because of this.  It was only because Rancid were supporting that won me over.  I'd never seen them before, so they were another band I would be able to tick off of my list.

Monday night was honestly one of the best nights I've had in a long time.  Rancid were brilliant.  I'm so glad I got to see them live finally, and Green Day were probably the best I've ever seen them live.  The politics was kept to a minimum, making plenty more room for lots of music, old and new.  Billie Joe is still one of the most amazing entertainers I've ever seen live.  That man knows how to work a crowd!

The highlight of the show for me was when they sang 'King For A Day'.  It's one of my absolute favourite songs, and I love it when they perform it live.  I was fully expecting them not to play it.  It's such an old song now and with them having so much more newer material, I had no expectation of it being on the set list, so when it came on I just went crazy!

Basically, this Monday just gone was the most amazing start to the week ever!

The rest of the week went really well, or at least from my perspective it did anyway.  There's a lot to learn in my new role, but I feel like I have the head space in this job to pick up the new role and really learn the ropes properly.  I feel like I've fit into the team really well, and I hope it's going to be a really positive few months (Or however long the temp role ends up being!).

One of my favourite things about working in town is getting to browse the food market in the town centre.  I love supporting local businesses, especially ones focused around food!  On Friday afternoon, to celebrate my first full week in my new job I decided to have a nosey around the markets, when I came across the most amazing smell.  My nose soon brought me to the most glorious looking pastries, and they were 3 for £5.00.  It would have been rude not to really, so I picked up a French apple tart, a chocolate twist and a Bailey's eclair, and I'm not going to lie to you; I ate them all on Friday night!

I have a sweet tooth ok!  Sweet treats are my vice!

Saturday started off pretty stressful whilst we sat down ready to attempt to get tickets for Ed Sheeran's next stadium tour.  I've missed out the past couple of years due to losing family.  My Nan passed away on the day he played at Wembley in 2015, and my Mum passed away when he announced his arena tour last year, so the last thing on my mind was thinking about buying tickets at that point.

About 30 minutes in to tickets going on sale and we managed to get our hands on a pair, and I couldn't be more excited about it.  I just have to wait 11 months now!

The rest of the day was spent doing life admin and house chores, so wasn't all that exciting, however, I did have great fun with the pressure washer on the back yard.  Blasting all of the grime out of the brinks is one of the most satisfying things ever!

Last night was spent applying for something very exciting.  I applied to work for the cultural exchange program at Disney World next year!  I'm going to write a full post on why I've applied for this as somebody who's quite a bit older to the usual audience who applies to do this, but basically it's been around six years in the making.

I applied six years ago just after I graduated from University, but then withdrew my application do to my Mum's ill mental health.  She never knew I applied for it, so never knew I withdrew, and I think had she known I'd withdrawn from the program for her she would have been heart broken.  Now she's no longer with us, I think she would want me to have this one last shot at a dream that's been on the back burner for so many years, and Spencer fully supports me going.  It's only for a year after all, so I've bit the bullet and submitted my application last night!  Watch this space!

I've had such a positive week, and I'm feeling good about life at the moment.  I'm off to get ready for Friends Fest now, so keep an eye out on social media for plenty of snaps of my day.  I'll no doubt be sharing loads on my Insta!

I have a new Instagram account just FYI.  I've been contemplating for months starting a fresh on Insta.  I know it means sacrificing a tonne of hard work, but I've really struggled to find a direction with my old account.  I've basically just fallen out of love with it, so on Friday night I set up a whole new one.  There's something quite satisfying about a blank canvas, and I'm looking forward to building a new account that I can be really proud of.

I would love for you to come along and follow me on my new Insta journey, so if you'd like to follow me just click right here!


Nourish | Sheffield's Answer To Healthy Fast Food

I've known about Nourish for well over a year now.  I was first introduced to it by my best friend Charlotte who is vegetarian.  We were in Sheffield one day when she wanted to stop off for food, and this is where she took me.  I couldn't believe this little gem was right under my nose and I hadn't realised!

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll have probably read at some point about my partner Spencer, who is lactose intolerant, so eating out can be a struggle, especially at fast food joints.  Nourish however, has just as much option for him as it does for me, which made a lovely change.

Unfortunately Nourish slipped my mind over time as I didn't go into town that often, and on the occasions we did we ended up eating elsewhere, forgetting that Nourish was ready and waiting with lots of tasty, healthy food.

Since the Nourish event I attended a couple of weeks ago to celebrate the opening of their new Ecclesall Road branch, I highly doubt I will be forgetting about it again in a hurry.  I was very lucky to attend this event and try a whole load of samples from the menu.  Unfortunately the photos I took on the evening turned out pretty atrocious, so I used the voucher for a free meal at Nourish that the guys kindly gifted us as an opportunity to get some better photos.

The event itself was so informative.  The manager David clearly knows his stuff, and has used his knowledge to create a truly outstanding menu.  He went into detail about how some of the ingredients in each dish were cooked, and how cooking them in the ways they were would benefit us.  There's a real science behind what he creates, which I found really interesting, and incredibly impressive!

I came away from the event absolutely stuffed after trying a huge portion (No pun intended!) of the menu.  Every dish I tried was full of flavour and unlike anything else I've ever had in any other fast food chain.  Having such a sweet tooth though, the absolute stand out dish of the evening for me was the Avocado Chocolate Mousse.  Although there was a definite hint of avocado in the flavour, the consistency was pretty much spot on!  It was very much like eating a dark chocolate mousse.

Since the event a couple of weeks ago I have visited Nourish twice, once where I used the vouchers for a lovely meal after my interview last week, and again last Saturday when we went for early morning breakfast before a 9:00am blogger event.

As much as I loved the sample dishes I tried at the event, I wanted to take advantage of my voucher to try some different dishes on the menu, so I opted for the Brazilian Bean Hot Wrap, and Vanilla Cheesecake as dessert. Both were delicious, but again, the sweet tooth came into play and the Vanilla Cheesecake took the crown.  In fact, vanilla cheesecake is my absolute favourite dessert ever, so these was no competition really was there?

Attending this event has really put Nourish fully on my radar, and since it has been our first choice for eating out when in town.  From my understanding, Nourish is one of, if not the only healthy fast food establishment in Sheffield, so are very much needed to fill that very large gap in the market.

In my opinion Nourish is an amazing brand, who not only provide the city with a service we were lacking, but genuinely care about their customers.  If you're in or around the city centre/Ecclesall Road area, then I couldn't recommend calling into Nourish more.  You'll be greeted with a warm welcome, can be safe in the knowledge that the Nourish team know what they're talking about when it comes to their menu, and be served top quality food.

*I was invited to the Nourish event in exchange for a review.  All opinions are my own
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