Saturday, 25 November 2017

Dear Rachel

How are you doing these days? I can't believe it's been a year and eight months since you left. I realised today that I actually miss you, and I don't know why it's taken me this long to acknowledge that.

Do you remember the first time that we met? We'd been speaking in that group chat before uni - the one that started with me, you, Milan and Georgia - and my family hiking holiday brought me to the Lake District near you. Remember how you took me to a really dodgy pub in Cockermouth because you knew the landlord and needed to borrow some of his son's law books? You bought me a diet coke and wouldn't let me pay. You're generous like that. We went up to the flat above the pub and sat on a dusty carpet just chatting about our lives. I remember how you told a story about something that happened at school and you used the word "us" to refer to just yourself. That threw me the first few weeks that I knew you, took me a while to get my head around. You Northerners and your first person plural pronouns when you mean singular! 

Are you still fiercely proud of your Cumbrian roots? I could never decide if that was something I loved or hated about you! Do you still hate everyone who comes from anywhere south of Manchester? (Everyone except me, of course!) I suppose it's good that you're passionate about things, wildly enthusiastic. Vivacious. Do you still love Jeremy Corbyn? I know you used to love to debate about politics, and I never could tell you that I didn't vote Labour. I was a bit scared of what you might have said, I think. I bet you still go out canvassing for Labour when election times roll round. I wonder what you thought of the snap election this year. I would have loved to have talked about it with you.

Have you got any more tattoos? I wish I'd come with you now, back in 2014, to watch you get that albatross on your shoulder blade. I think I stayed back with Amy to sort out all of our washing in the laundrette, or something equally mundane, while Georgia went with you. Strange how close you and Georgia were, how similar you were in so many ways, and yet it was also those parallels which made you clash. I don't think either of you would like to hear it - which is why I've never said it - but you two are more alike than you think. I see so much of you in her, especially in third year, when you weren't around.

I've often wondered about you, since those awful couple of weeks where you and Amy and Georgia weren't speaking, and I felt terribly caught in the middle. It shouldn't have been a case of loyalties, or ganging up on anyone, which is why I tried so hard to stay out of everything. Remember that night when you brought Elle round at about 9pm, and went up to Georgia's room to talk things over? Except it turned into screaming things over, awful things said and done, with Amy powering upstairs to join Georgia. What you don't know is that Josh and I sat downstairs that night in a horrified silence, listening to everything being said. My eyes got a bit teary as I came to the realisation - amidst the shrieking and swearing - that the four of us, us girls, would never, and could never, be how we were before.

After you left, it took me months to get used to not having you around. No one to come into my room every evening, without fail, to chat about our days. No one to knock on my door to ask me if I wanted a cup of tea, or some toast. No midnight Asda runs to pick up 5p loaves of bread in the reduced aisle. No one to pick me up from the station every time I came back from Cardiff, to go to McDonald's drive thru with. No one to pop to town with on a whim, or to watch trashy TV with. It took me months to get used to being a group of three with Amy and Georgia, rather than a pack of four with you there. The dynamics changed. I think maybe you and I always got each other on a level that I never had with them.

I was devastated when you moved out, messaged me to say you were posting your keys through the door. So sad when you deleted me from Facebook, saying it was too hard for you to have reminders of this terrible experience in your mind - even if that reminder was me. Saying you still consider me a friend, but that you need to move on, maybe even complete your final year of uni somewhere else. Saying you couldn't believe it had come to this, but your dad was coming here to move your stuff out, because you couldn't face it.

You weren't faultless in this. You were provoked, perhaps, but you took the bait every single time - no matter who offered it , or how small it was - and just burst into a raging tornado of negative emotion. I know your mental health was a challenge for you at times, and that you battled with it hard, but I also know that you didn't seek out the help you needed. Maybe you didn't want to, maybe you were in denial. Our house, our home together, became quite a volatile environment for everyone to live in. It was like a pot simmering for weeks, until one day it boiled over and everyone, everything, got burned.

I'm glad you and Greg broke up. I never liked him. Your new guy seems nice though, and you look adorable together. I'm really happy for you. Did you ever get that albatross tattoo watercoloured? I know you always wanted to. I hope you did. I'm so pleased that you decided to come back to Chester too, after your year abroad, to finish uni. You did love it there, and Instagram tells me you've been enjoying the Christmas markets now, just as we used to together two or three years ago. I hope you're a lot happier now than you were at the start of last year, because you really deserve to be. You're a sweet, generous, ambitious girl who I wish nothing but the best for. Maybe I'll drop you a message soon, just to see how you're getting on. If I could wind back to two years ago, I would. I think I could have salvaged the mess you, Amy and Georgia made then with what I know now.

Take care, Rach. I hope our paths cross again one day.

Thursday, 26 October 2017


 June 2013

July 2014

 March 2015

 June 2015

June 2017

August 2017

October 2017

Here's my face over the past four and a half years. I'm aware that several of these are mug shots and not all of them are very smiley, but I really do think that a passport photo type of expression shows your face much more accurately. I was feeling all nostalgic tonight and found myself scrolling back through old blog posts and old webcam photos. I used to use my webcam so much, but since my first smartphone entered my life in June 2015 (I was very late on the bandwagon, I know!), I found myself forgetting that my trusty laptop existed. Earlier this year, I found a few straight faced photos I'd taken which were lurking in my webcam folder, and tried to remember to take a couple more in 2017. I'm really glad that 17/18/19 year old me took so many photos because I love looking back at them and comparing everything.

In the first photo, I was 17 years old, hadn't chosen a university, and didn't have a job yet. I lived at home and I was really, really happy (believe it or not, judging from the photo!).

The second photo was taken the following summer. I was 18, had been on my first girls' holiday, and was nervously awaiting my A level results. I'd also been to my first festival, just got my first boyfriend (who, in 2017, turned out to be a liar and a cheat lol), and I was still really happy.

The third photo was taken when I was two terms into my university experience and had been living in Chester, 200 miles away from home, for 7 months. I'd put on weight and was finding it hard to make really close friends who I just clicked with. Slightly less happy than before but still doing well.

In the fourth photo, I'm holding a textbook because I was mid-revision for my end of year exams for year one of uni. I had a very round little face (and round tummy!) and was doing well. I'd made a few close friends by this point and was loving life.

Now we skip ahead two years to June 2017. I'd finished all three years of uni, been working part time at McDonald's for almost 4 years, and had lost 2.5 stone (approx 15kg) in weight. I'd taken up running again by this point and had bashed out a sub 2 hour half marathon a week before this photo. I was happy, still with 2013 boyfriend (despite a small break in which I regretfully, cringefully, embarked on a brief fling with my housemate), and was still living in Chester. Slight panic about my impending graduate unemployment but I was able to stifle it and enjoy life.

Photo number six depicts a full time McDonald's worker, who was desperately hunting for graduate jobs in every spare moment she got. I was still running lots, seeing my friends lots, and was slightly sad that 2013 boyfriend had shown his true colours and that our very long, drawn out relationship was about to end. On the plus side, I'd never been closer with my parents and moving back home to London permanently revived old friendships.

The final photo is me, as of ten minutes ago. I work full time in an office now, am technically a single lady (although a very nice guy is on the sidelines, wahaay), and run five times a week. I'm so close to my family, my friends are fabulous, and I'm absolutely loving this point in my life. I feel so lucky to have made it through these past four and a half years (and pretty much my whole life, to be honest) relatively unscathed. The world is a brutal, oftentimes nasty, place but I think I'm navigating it well. Life, so far, has been wonderful to me.

Looking at old photos can really bring back reams of dusty memories and intense waves of nostalgia. I adore 2017 and being 21, but what wouldn't I give to be transported back to June 2013 to relive this chunk of time? I wonder what things will be like another four and a half years from now...

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Koi No Yokan 2017

Back in 2013, over four years ago, I posted this on my blog, linking to an article about words in other languages which express particular concepts, but don't have an equivalent succinct word in English. One which really stuck out to me back then was the Japanese Koi No Yokan - the feeling that, when you first meet someone, you're going to fall in love with them. When I was 17 and first saw this, I had never been in love. I'm 21 now and I'd say that, yes, I have been in love, but it was probably first-boyfriend-kind-of-love, rather than this-is-my-future-husband-kind-of-love. Be warned, this is going to be a rather long blog post because I have a beautiful story to tell.

Let me set the scene.

It was Friday 1st September 2017, and I was on a 7am-3pm shift at my job at McDonald's (which, incidentally, I had my last day at yesterday). It was a beautiful sunny day and I was in a good mood because I'd had a couple of cups of coffee and was working with my favourite coworkers. At about 7.40am, I took a man's order on the till. He ordered a sausage and egg muffin meal with a latte, but I was kind of distracted because I had quite a few responsibilities that morning, like packing up deliveries and helping with drive through orders. 

As I put this guy's order together on a tray, I was chatting to the window cleaner that my manager employed to come in twice a week and make sure all the windows looked spotless. He's been cleaning our windows for over four years, so I've been seeing him every week since I was 17. He's seen me as a fresh-faced sixth form student, he's seen me get fat and then slim again, he's been asking me for updates all about life at university for the whole of my degree. On this morning, he was asking what my plan was now that I've graduated, and I told him that I wasn't really sure, that I was going to work at McDonald's until a grad job came up. I gave the customer his tray of food but, again, I was pretty distracted - both by the window cleaner, and also with other people to serve and tasks to complete.

About five minutes later, I was asked to run around the dining area to make sure that all the tables were clear and to give the surfaces a clean. I was popping some rubbish in the bin when aforementioned man came over to give me his tray. I thanked him, and he went to sit back down to finish his coffee. The table next to him was covered in dirt, so I went over to spray it and wipe it. 

"So, what did you study then?" I heard. I think my head snapped up pretty quickly and I stared at him, probably looking quite blank.

"Sorry, I overheard you talking to the guy at the counter," he explained, with a bit of a sheepish smile. He was actually quite cute looking, with glasses and short curly hair. I don't remember what he was wearing but he had kind of a rugby player's body build and a really friendly face.

From then, we got chatting. It sounds really cheesy but it just felt really natural and I remember laughing a lot, smiling the whole time. We talked about work, and how he adores his job as a Spanish teacher, and he asked me about my degree and all my life plans. I think we spoke for five or ten minutes which flew by and, before I knew it, my manager was eyeballing me, signalling for me to stop talking to cute customers and get back to some real work. We said goodbye, he popped his coffee cup in the bin, and left.

When I got back behind the counter, some of my work friends joked about how I shouldn't be chatting up customers, about how I just wanted an excuse to skive. I didn't really know how to say that I thought something really special had just happened (without sounding like a total idiot!) so I just laughed along with them. When I got out of work, I sent a voice note on the WhatsApp group chat I had with my two best friends, talking about meeting this guy. I also mentioned it to a couple of other friends when they asked me how my day had gone. Coincidentally, my then-boyfriend broke up with me three days after I met this mystery customer. In truth, we'd been not quite right for a while, after having broken up earlier in the year and getting back together a few months later. It felt like quite good timing, really, even though I'd never seen this customer before (he definitely wasn't a regular) and didn't expect to see him again.

Fast forward three weeks and six days to Thursday 28th September. In this time, I'd become a single lady, had been offered and then accepted a graduate job, and was working my penultimate shift at McDonald's. My duty for that morning on my shift was beverages, which I enjoyed because I got to make (and drink) lots of coffees around the corner and be out-of-sight from customers. Around 7.55am, the orders started flooding in and I could see that the girls working on the in-store orders were starting to struggle. I had just finished making three lattes and popped them into one of the cardboard carriers. It was busy, so I helped my coworkers finish the order, taking the coffees around the corner.

"Three lattes," I called out, looking up from the receipt to find the man from almost a month ago standing right in front of me. We both cracked massive smiles, even if it did take me two seconds to remember where I knew his face from. 

"Hey! How are you?" I asked, barely containing my delight.

"You're still working here then?" he replied, sounding almost teasing.

"It's okay, I've found a new job. I'm getting out of here!" I think I was probably grinning like a complete idiot at this point, but it was okay because he was too. "Tomorrow's my last day."

I asked how he was finding the new school term, being back at work, how he'd been. I don't remember what we spoke about, but I know it was for quite a few minutes and I was feeling a bit giddy, having an internal battle with myself about whether or not to ask for his number. In the end, he beat me to it.

"Would you maybe want to go for a drink sometime?" he asked with a massive smile on his face. I responded pretty much instantly which I'm a little bit embarrassed about now, because nothing could hide my eagerness. He handed me his phone and I popped in my number, double checking it because I wasn't about to let this kind of second chance from the universe slide away from me.

He glanced at my name badge (never have I been more glad of having to wear a name badge at work). "So... you're Kate," he said with a smile, typing my name into his phone. He told me his name was Chris, a name which I love actually, and said he'd text me later. We both suddenly became aware that it was very busy and that I should probably get back to work, having displayed ultra professionalism in giving out my number over the counter.

"I'll see you soon," he said, picking up his coffees, and I watched him leave the store for the second time - but this time knowing I'd see him again.

I went back round the corner to my drinks station with a massive grin on my face, where I filled the work girls in on what had happened, and my male manager congratulated me on scoring a customer. I found myself daydreaming all day about my mystery McDonald's man, except I could now call him Chris, and was desperate to check my phone every second of every hour.

He ended up WhatsApping me about about 5pm that evening, and we've been chatting since then (a whole two days, wow). He's funny, charming, very interested, and now I even know his last name. We're both quite busy but - at the time of writing this - I believe we're going for drinks next week. I'm not worried that it's going to be awkward because the two times that I've met him have both been really relaxed and easy, and we're both quite extroverted. I just hope he turns out to be as lovely as he comes across on first (and second!) impressions.

I'm still in a bit of shock, to be honest, because this is the kind of stuff that happens in films. The kind of scenario where I'd be thinking "well, yeah, but this wouldn't happen in real life". This is a guy who I met for ten minutes, and where I felt something strong enough that I was compelled to tell my friends about this random encounter, this stranger. I can't quite believe that he came back on my penultimate shift at McDonald's, that his was the order that I happened to take out to the counter, that he remembered me.

In the couple of days that we've been chatting, he's said that he actually told his colleagues about meeting me after the first time, so it looks like I wasn't alone in feeling the need to shout this from the rooftops - in much the same way as I am now! I wanted to write this all down, and - yes it's only been two days since it happened - remember it, because I feel like this might be the start of something really good. Alternatively, it might become nothing at all but I'm still going to read this post back and remember that one of my daytime, daydream, cute guy fantasies came true. That in itself is pretty special.

I'm not saying it's love - it's absolutely not love after a total of about 15 minutes of conversation - but it's a bit of Koi No Yokan... the sense that something amazing might be just around the corner.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Life Update

I've very much neglected this blog over the past couple of years, but I'm at a point in my life now where things are changing and I want to write a little update - not for the three people who still read my posts - but for me, so I can flick back through my blog fondly (as I sometimes do) and feel pleased that I documented it.

Firstly, I got dumped. This happened recently (like twelve days ago kind of recently) but I actually feel really okay about it. He and I had been seeing each other since 2013 sort of on and off, and then had two and a half years where we were together properly, travelling hundreds of miles to visit each other at uni, and being very in love. But not everything lasts forever, and one minute he was telling me that he's never been happier with someone, and then three weeks later was calling me after he'd gone back to uni to tell me it wasn't working. Obviously, I was a bit gutted but that lasted for about twenty four hours before I pulled myself together and I've been fine since. To be honest, I've barely thought about him which leads me to believe that I hadn't been in love with him for quite some time. I think we were comfortable and enjoyed each other's company, but sometimes that's not enough so perhaps this dumping is actually a blessing in disguise.

Another positive thing that has happened lately is that I FOUND A GRADUATE JOB (!!!!!). Last Friday, I emailed a local(ish) company that a friend of a friend works for, asking if they had any jobs going - despite there being no vacancies on the website and me having no experience whatsoever - and at 6.30am on Monday morning, I received an email inviting me for an interview. Said interview was being held the following morning. I barely had any time to go on the (not very informative) website to do a bit of research about the company before I went along to meet the director on Tuesday at 10am. Basically, I know hardly anything about the industry but I took note of a couple of clients (MTV being one, and New Look another!) which he was suitably impressed with (I hope), and I was offered the job there and then. Apparently, I "interview very well" which just means that I smile and say "oh really?" a lot when being told Important And Interesting Information. The salary is terrible but I'm hoping I can negotiate that soon. So, as of the third of October, I will be working in the utility contracting industry, for a company who deals with Harrods' utilities, amongst other organisations.

All of this means that I'll be leaving my job at McDonald's in two weeks, which I'm absolutely gutted about. I've been there for over four years, love the people that I work with, love the hours, the work, and training newbies. I've been there so long that I know everything about procedures, how to make every menu item, how to fix machines, how to deal with angry people, and how many milks the old lady likes in her tea every morning. I think I'll miss the regular customers almost as much as the job itself. I'm a bit scared about moving from a workplace where people come to me for help, to one where I'm totally untrained with no expertise whatsoever. I didn't, however, go to uni for three years and rack up forty grand of debt to flip burgers and make coffees for the rest of my life, so the transition is necessary. And I'll be making this transition as a single lady who's 2.5 stone lighter that she was last year, and a bloody lot happier than she's ever been.

I'd say life's pretty sweet right now.

Monday, 26 June 2017


I've finished uni.

I'm not officially a graduate yet because, for some ridiculous reason, the University of Chester holds the actual ceremony in November - but I am what's called a "graduand", apparently. I now have a 2.1 degree in English Language which I'm happy with. A first would have been fabulous but I definitely haven't worked hard enough to get one of those. My main aim now is to find a graduate job but I'm feeling quite lazy at the moment and I'd love to enjoy my last summer as a kind of non-adult without the pressure of real adult work.

I got back from a holiday to Bulgaria with my uni friends last Monday. We went for a week to celebrate finishing our degrees and, although I wasn't massively looking forward to it before we went, I had the best time ever and I'm experiencing major holiday blues right now. We had beautiful weather, went in the pool every day, and ate stupid amounts due to being on an all-inclusive scheme. I put on HALF A STONE while we were out there but most of it's dropped off now, thank god, because I've been eating sensible amounts again and running 20 miles in the past week.

I go back to work in a week at my job at McDonald's. They pay a pretty decent amount - more than bar work, or retail work - the people are lovely, and I'm good at it. I'm kind of looking forward to having an actual purpose again because right now I'm bumming around at home and feeling very bored. I don't think I could ever be long term unemployed. It's just soul-destroying.

I'm off to make a sandwich now but I'll leave you with a photo of me from last week, loving life on my inflatable flamingo.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, swimming, pool, outdoor and water