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Posted in travel

Paris: Je t’aime

This September, I am going on holiday to France. I’m staying just to the west of Paris, close to Versailles. I absolutely can’t wait as I’ve not been to this part of France since I was 10, being super-cool on a Year 6 Leavers’ Trip.

This time, I am going to be a mature, sophisticated 22 year old (at least, that’s what I’ll try to be) and I’ll get to see things that I want to, rather than what the teachers planned.

Palace of VersaillesI have always wanted to go back here. There are spectacular rooms and even more spectacular gardens.

Arc de TriompheIt sounds awful, but a huge part of wanting to see the Arc de Triomphe is so I can see the crazy roundabout.

The Eiffel TowerWhy would I not want to visit the Eiffel Tower? I love photos with it in, and I love photos of the view from the top. I can’t wait to take some myself now that I’ve upgraded from a disposable camera.

Disneyland ParisI have never visited Disneyland or Disney World or anything like that. So I definitely want to go here. It’ll help me to maintain that sophisticated image I’m going for…

Notre Dame de ParisImage result for notre dameIt’s just incredible. A cathedral built on an island in the middle of the Seine. That is one huge island! Plus, I remember something about flying buttresses (geeky architectural knowledge) and the gargoyles and Victor Hugo managed to save this amazing building with his book. Just WOW!

Monet’s GardenOkay, so Monet’s Garden isn’t technically in Paris. But, it’s so beautiful and inspiring and it’s crazy to think that Monet actually lived here. I’m no artist, but if I lived here I’d be instagramming all day, every day.

The LouvreI just want to visit the outside. I know that the Mona Lisa is housed within this museum, but I’ve heard that it’s disappointing. It’s smaller than people realise, and I’m not big on art. I prefer to look landscapes though.

La Basilique du Sacre-CoeurJust look at it. It’s so pulchritudinous (you can tell I’ve used a thesaurus. It means beautiful. I use beautiful a lot though so I decided to jazz things up a bit by using a long, sophisticated word).

If anyone has any other places that I should most definitely go and visit or I’m being a complete and utter plonker, then please let me know.

 

 

Cover image from: http://goinswriter.com/midnight-paris/

 

Posted in Personal

Another Year

Dear Kieran,

Once again it’s the 24th July. Another year has passed since you were taken away from us, and it’s another year in which life moves on.

Three years ago, it was just another normal day (apart from the fact that it was my birthday). I’d woken up early and was waiting for you to finally get up so that I could open my cards and presents. I’d even moaned at you because you didn’t wish me a happy birthday straight away (and when I’d picked you up on it, you just moaned back, saying that you’d just woke up). Mum and I spent the morning sunbathing by the pool whilst you went off to the youth club that was on the campsite. I’m so grateful that you did. You took part in a scavenger hunt type thing, and someone had taken photos so that we were able to have some of you in your last few hours alive. After lunch, we’d decided to go and have a lazy afternoon by the beach. I was in a grump as I’d wanted to sit right by the lifeguards so that I could look at the attractive ones (isn’t it ironic that a few minutes later, they would be helping us look for you and I didn’t care once what they looked like). I’d started reading my book and I could see you and Dad down in the waves. The next thing I know is that Dad has run up to Mum and I saying that that he couldn’t see you. The next few hours passed in a blur. We never gave up hoping, despite being practical minded. We know that if you had resurfaced after however long without oxygen that you’d have sustained permanent damage but we just prayed for a miracle. Our miracle was that you were recovered, that we weren’t just left without you, never knowing whether you’d died or not.

So much has happened since that day on the beach 3 years ago, and it’s often surreal to think that you’d be 19 years, 6 months (and 18 days) old. I was 19 years old when it all happened, and it’s hard to believe that you’d be the age I was when you died.

It’s hard to imagine what you’d be like now. I still imagine you as that quirky, kind 16 year old who wouldn’t have thought about moving away from home for uni. You wanted to do primary school teaching, and I can still visualise you doing that if you were here, but who knows? In three years, you could have changed your mind and decided that you wanted to teach English in Spain (although, I think this would have been highly unlikely. Your Spanish left a lot to be desired) or an engineer. You’d have probably quite liked Aidan’s job, and you might have considered doing that. I can imagine you working for a transport company, but I’m not sure whethere you’d have liked the busyness and chaos of central London.

I’ve been working as a teaching assistant in a primary school for the last year and I’ve really enjoyed it. I don’t think I have the patience to work as a teacher in primary education and I’m looking forward to starting my teacher training (in secondary education – geography!) in September. I’m going to the University of Birmingham and although I know it’s going to be hard work, I’m following my dream and I’m determined to try my hardest to accomplish everything I can. Admittedly, my stress levels are likely to go through the roof, but I know what I want to achieve. I feel sad though that you aren’t able to follow your dreams; that your chance, your opportunity, was taken away.

Alex, who you have never met (but I know that you two would have gotten along) is working for Mum and Dad’s company in IT but soon he’ll be transferring to a different part of the company and it’s closer to home (I’ll get on to that bit in a minute). We got married in March (on Easter Monday). You’d have liked the wedding favours. They were mini eggs and other chocolate eggs. I put one of the flowers from my bouquet in the Garden of Remembrance at church, and then Mum went back the next day with my whole bouquet. It felt strange that you weren’t there, and that someone who had been a huge part of my life for 16 years wasn’t at my wedding to the man I love. You should have been there, sitting with the family, laughing at the embarrassing things that Dad was saying. We had to live at home for a 3 months, but a month ago today (24th June) we finally moved into our new house. It has 3 toilets which I’m sure you’d have found amusing! Especially as there are only the two of us living there. It’d have been nice if you could have been able to visit the house. It’s near Wolverhampton and it’s a new build. It’s a lot of hard work at the moment, especially for Alex as he has to do all the manual labour (I wouldn’t even know how to put up a picture frame let alone put furniture together or sort the garden out) but it’s slowly getting sorted.

Aidan and Beth also got married this year in May. That was sad, knowing that you should have been up there at the side of him, being his ‘moral support’ for the day, but Aidan’s best man Brekan was lovely. You would be proud that your brother has a best friend who could take the role. You weren’t forgotten though, and I know that you’d have been watching both weddings take place.

Alex and I are going to Devon next week to visit Uncle Gary. My future sister-in-law, Nicole (she is marrying Alex’s brother) is also from Devon and she’s mentioned Quaywest Waterpark. Alex is looking forward to going, and I know you would want to go if you could. It’s an outdoor waterpark and has 8 different waterslides. It might not quite be like Aqualandia but I think waterparks abroad have an advantage in the weather. Thinking about water parks though, there is apparently going to be one built in Coventry. I heard it on the radio so it’ll be interesting to see if that is actually going to happen.

I’m still planning on scrapbooking all my holidays and exciting days out (within reason). If it’s a holiday and/or I’m travelling the world then I plan on putting photos into my scrapbook. If it’s a day out that you’d have enjoyed or I’m doing in memory of you, then I’ll scrapbook that too. But random days out that I have with Alex, for no purpose really apart from having a day out with Alex, they don’t seem like the days I should document.

I really want to travel all over still. I don’t think anything will really happen next year as Alex and I will probably still be finding our feet with what we can and can’t afford but I hope to be able to visit some places that I haven’t before. I know that there are places in Britain that I haven’t done, and those places are more accessible to us, but there are so many places in the world that I want to visit. And of course, I need to visit Florida so I can swim with dolphins (and visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter).

Oh, talking of scrapbooking and Harry Potter – Mum and I visited the Harry Potter Studio Tours again in May. We went because No. 4 Privet Drive was open and you could go inside. Apparently, if you were there at the right time, letters would shoot out and you could catch one to take home. We missed this. We went to the shop after, thinking that we would be able to buy a Hogwarts letter but the lady in the shop told me to ask Customer Services. The Customer Services lady was so nice, and she explained that they came out of a door on the set, but she gave me one. I GOT A HOGWARTS LETTER! (And okay, so it’s addressed to Mr. H. Potter but I think that Dumbledore and McGonagall must have got a little confused when writing to me. It’s also just an envelope but that really isn’t the point. I GOT MY HOGWARTS LETTER!) This time, were able to see the Hogwarts Express. Oh my life, it was so magical. You walk down a corridor, and then you turn the corner and it’s there. I just don’t know how to describe it. It was absolutely amazing and I wish you could have experienced it. It felt just like Harry Potter, and I almost felt like I was going to be boarding the train and going to Hogwarts. I miss our random chats about Harry Potter. There’s a new book out soon because J.K. Rowling wrote a play. It’s called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and it’s set 19 years later (so I’m guessing some time after the epilogue of Deathly Hallows). I think that the book is going to be in play form, which I’ll find harder to read, but I definitely want to see how it all turns out. I don’t think that Harry runs off with Luna in it though.

In September, I’ll be doing the walk that Mum and Aidan did last year. I think Dad is doing it too. We’re walking 26.2 miles around London, and I’m doing it to raise money for the RNLI. I know that it wasn’t the RNLI who spent their time looking for you in France for 3 days, but it’s a way of giving something back to people who do a similar job, here in the UK. I’ll never forget what the French coastguards did for us, in terms of searching for you. Spending hours tirelessly going into the sea, sending search helicopters and looking further down the coast, despite the possibility that you could have been carried down to the Atlantic coast of Spain. I want to give something back to those that work, saving lives at sea, and by raising money for the RNLI,  I feel like I am doing just that.

There’s so much more that has happened, but a lot of things are just banal or mundane. They’re not things that you store up to write in a letter. You might tell people at the time, but otherwise they lack the excitement that make them of interest to other people at a later date. It’s annoying that I can’t just text you, out of the blue, to tell you some of these things (like I do with Alex or Mum) but I realise that you probably know it all anyway.

Despite so much hurt and grieving coming from losing you in Messanges 3 years ago, so much good has come from it too. I don’t know whether I’d have been able to turn my life around if I hadn’t realised that life is too short to waste it being unhappy or stuck in a rut. I think that is valid though for all of us. Mum, Dad, Aidan and me. We’re all doing things with our lives, and some of the things are probably things we wouldn’t have even considered 3 years ago. I also know, that although we will never ever forget you, you wouldn’t want us to be sitting here in a permanent state of grieving, never moving on. You are no longer suffering any of the things that life throws at us everyday, and you would be proud of all us. Your kind, loving, patient nature was a blessing to all those who ever met you, and it is an inspiration to me (and possibly others). You will always be my little brother, and everyday, I strive to be a better person, to be someone like you. Nobody I know ever had a bad word to say about you, and that is something that is so inspiring to me.

Lots of love,

Tara xx

 

 

 

 

Posted in Wedding Wednesday

Wedding Wednesday #3

It’s been around 6 months since I last posted an update about wedding planning, and so much has been happening since then! (Particularly in the last few weeks!)

Just after Christmas, I went back into Birmingham with Mum to have my dress fitting! Trying on my dress again has just proved how much I love it! Very few alterations need to be made and, in February, I get to take it home with me! Mum and I are going to go to Birmingham for most of the day and make sure that I’ve got my going-away clothes and everything else.

Just after the new year, invitations were sent out and it has been so exciting receiving responses! Officially, they’re addressed to my parents, but they briefly look at them before passing them on to me! I find it interesting to see what menu options people have chosen, and whether I think they match my expectations.

I have also picked up the bridesmaid dress that I mentioned in my last post! I am absolutely in love with it, and it’s not even for me! I really hope my bridesmaid, Natalie, will be pleased with it and love it as much as I do! I was tempted to see if the lady was able to make an adult version of it for me, but Alex didn’t seem to be too impressed by that idea!

Suits have been chosen by Alex, and the majority of people, who require them, have been to be measured up!

Pretty soon, it’s going to be the big day and I absolutely can’t wait! I get to marry the man I want to spend the rest of my life with! I have a countdown on my phone and as I’m writing this (on the 9th January) there’s only 79 days to go!!

Hopefully, some more stuff will happen in the next few weeks!

 

Posted in Personal

A Mixture of Anniversaries

So, today is the 24th July. This day means different things to different people. To a lot of you, today is just another day. One more day to get through until you get to those days that are important to you. Today, however, means a lot to me. Not only is it my birthday (and my 21st), it’s also the 2 year anniversary of when my little brother died. Therefore, it seems fitting to write something in remembrance of him. (I’ll be celebrating my birthday next week, so in regards to that, today is just another day).

The photo, used as a header for this post, was taken whilst I was in France in June. It’s the beach in Messanges where Kieran died. Whilst we were in France (Mum, Dad, Alex, my older brother, his fiancee, my nan, and I) we went back to Messanges, to the place where it all happened. Whilst Mum, Dad and I were revisiting, it was the first time for the others and it helped them to understand where it was that it happened. To most people, it’s just a beach (and a rather lovely one at that), but to us, it means something different. It’s the place where my brother died, and although I miss him every day, I find peace in knowing that he died splashing around in the sea, doing something he loved.

Today, Mum and I both have days off work. We’re going to visit Conkers (yes, the same place where Alex and I will have our wedding reception) as it was somewhere that Mum took us all when we were children. We went there last year, and I feel like it’s the right place to go and remember Kieran. I’m also glad that we’ve chosen this place for our reception. Whilst we had looked elsewhere, they weren’t available, and it seems right to have our wedding reception at a place where I have memories of Kieran (and where my family does as well). We don’t really have any other plans for today, but we’ll see what happens.

This week also meant remembering Kieran in a different way. On Wednesday, William Allitt (my secondary school) hosted their awards ceremony. Last year, we donated an award in memory of Kieran which is known as the ‘Kieran Knight Award for Kindness and Compassion’. We get invited to go to the ceremony, so this year Mum and I went. We like seeing who gets the award. Whilst this year is the first year that I didn’t really know any students (the current year 11s joined after I had left), it was still really lovely seeing people get awards and it was a trip down memory lane. Although, the ceremonies are certainly shorter. I used to have to sit through 2 hours of awards and speeches whereas this was around 45 minutes! I don’t know the girl who won the Kindness and Compassion award, but a friend from church does – apparently she is really lovely and often helps out at Guides.

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One of the last photos Dad took of all three of us 🙂

So Kieran, you’re not forgotten, even during the busiest times of our lives when we have so much going on. You’re in our hearts every single second of every single day, and you’re greatly missed. Lots of love, from your ‘big’ sister xx

Posted in Personal

Graduation

IMG_8703 I am now, officially, Tara Knight BSc (Hons). Last Friday, I graduated in BSc Geography, and in a way, I think it’s finally hit me that I’m not going back to uni in September. (Who knows if I’ll go back to uni, but it might not be Aberystwyth!)

Although my ceremony was on the Friday afternoon, my parents and I travelled across to Aberystwyth on the Thursday morning so that I would be able to go to Alex’s graduation (Thursday afternoon).IMG_8418

Having arrived and eaten lunch, I had a little bit of time to see Alex before he went to his rehearsal, and before I went to get feedback on my dissertation. He gave me my ticket so that I had it, and I told him to put his mortar board back on.

It was really lovely to see Alex graduate, and I’m definitely glad I made it. There’s something about seeing your husband-to-be walk across the stage, and officially become an Aber alumni. The only other graduation ceremony I’ve seen was my mum’s, and I was about 8 so I can’t really remember that much.IMG_8440

In the evening, my parents, Alex’s parents, Alex and I all went out for a meal to celebrate our graduations (even if mine hadn’t happened yet!) It also gave me a chance to update his parents about wedding things as I know Alex is rubbish at telling them.IMG_8485

Friday morning, 5am. I woke up at the B&B where we were staying because another guest was getting ready to leave, and they weren’t doing so quietly. 5.40am. I woke up again, the guest was still being noisy. 6.30am. I gave up trying to go back to sleep and started to get ready.

Breakfast was at 7:15 as we wanted to leave the B&B by 8, so that we could be in Aber by half 8 (the earliest time that I could pick up my robes). Although I didn’t graduate until the afternoon, I felt like I had to get everything done in the morning so that I wasn’t left having to queue for things when I wanted to relax. By 9am, I’d picked up my robes, put them on and had all the professional photography done.IMG_8764

A lot of the day was then spent, aimlessly sitting around. The Department of Geography and Earth Sciences (DGES) hosted a reception at 10, that I went along to for half an hour, before leaving so that I could register.

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Taken by my Mum or Dad at the Geography Reception

I think I was a mixture of emotions all day. There was definitely some excitement and nerves, as well as nostalgia (and probably a whole load more that I just can’t identify).  I wanted to get it over and done with, yet at the same time I didn’t. Graduating means that my time at Aber has finished and that now, I have to go out into the big wide world and actually be an adult. A proper one. Especially as I’m going to be a Teaching Assistant and will actually be looking after children.

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Taken by my Dad

Even throughout the ceremony I was nervous, and just wanted to walk across the stage. Luckily, I was in the first half – I don’t think I’d have wanted to wait until after the musical interlude. As Alex was singing, as part of the Elizabethan Madrigal Singers, it meant that he was able to pop into the ceremony and watch me graduate without having to sit through the whole thing. As I went down to the stage from where I was sitting, I was able to see him just before I had to walk across. My main worry at this point was as to whether I’d be able to walk up the steps on to the stage without falling over in my heels and breaking my ankle. (I managed it – the only injuries I have are blisters from two different pairs of shoes). The Madrigal Singers even cheered for me as my name was called. I shook the Vice-Chancellor’s hand (and she said Congratulations, and added a comment about my fan club) and then it was done. I made it off the stage (safely) and could then sit down, and not worry about anything. I’d graduated.

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Not sure if this is a copy of the photo taken by Tempest photography

After the ceremony, the whole department had their photo on La Scala (this large concrete step structure thing), and then we could socialise with the lecturers etc. I also had to go and collect my certificate from the library and return my robes.IMG_8754

Graduation was over. After saying goodbye to Alex, my parents and I headed home and I could finally get into bed (which felt so nice for my poor, blistered feet). It had been a long two days, but definitely worth it. I feel like I’m at a loss now, because I know I’ve finished. Graduation was the last stage, and that’s been checked off now. I’d got settled at uni, and I knewexactly what to expect. I think knowing that I won’t be going back to that routine makes me somewwat apprehensive. However, I am looking forward to the future though, and what it’ll bring!IMG_8772

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Taken by my Mum

All photos used were taken by Alex’s dad, unless stated otherwise 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized

[Photos] La France

20th June -4th July I was enjoying myself (with Alex and my family) in sunny France! The weather was glorious, and it was lovely being able to explore a part of France that I haven’t been to before! So here are some of the pictures from my trip! (All taken on my camera/phone but not necessarily by me as Alex frequently used my camera).

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This is the view of the gite from the bottom of the garden where we we staying! It was lovely, although as the temperatures reached 38 degrees outside, even the ‘cool’ of the house wasn’t that cool! The thermometer read 30 degrees!
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This is Chateau de Bonaguil! An actual chateau that is like an English (British) castle! Some of it was ruined, but it was really interesting. Plus, in a café afterwards I had the loveliest vanilla milkshake thing (milk with a vanilla syrup) ever. It was so sweet! It was like a vanilla Petits Filous yoghurt in drink form!
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In previous years, the sunflowers have been in full bloom the whole time we’ve been in France. However, as we went in June rather than July, the fields weren’t quite as impressive. Still, they were much better than the sunfowers in the UK!
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This is L’Uvarium in Moissac. I’m not entirely sure what it’s for or why it was built, but in the summer months there is a restaurant outside. We went here for a meal with some of the people we met at a church in Valence d’Agen. They were so lovely, and made us feel really welcome!
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My favourite house in Beauville (this wasn’t where we were staying!) I just thought it was the epitome of a stereotypical, rural French house! Whoever owns this house, you should be extremely happy that you have such a lovely house!
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The covered market square in Pujols. This village is said to be one of the prettiest in France and I have to agree! This was pretty much the only shade so we made sure to eat our lunch underneath!
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This house is also in Pujols. Not only is Pujols one of the most beautiful villages, it is a former bastide (fortified hill town). I love how a lot of the French have such beautiful flowers outside their houses (as they don’t have front gardens). It makes walking down a street so much more interesting!
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Carcassonne! I have wanted to go here ever since I read/watched the TV series of Labyrinth (the book is by Kate Mosse – check it out!) I’m so glad that I have finally been! It was so hot, I am grateful that we were visiting before the peak of tourist season. Alex and I walked round the as much of the walls as possible, and we found the place where the iconic photos are taken from!
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Beautiful sunset overlooking a lake! Unfortunately most of it is in shadow, but it was so beautiful in Beauville!
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Photo from the plane! I love flying and seeing all of the land below looking like a model village! Especially as you can see how the landscape changes (although, travelling through a country by car demonstrates this so much better!)
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The church we went to in Dondas. It’s such a beautiful building!

And just some more pictures…

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Posted in Wedding Wednesday

Wedding Wednesday #2:

So, this is just a quick update about the wedding planning. I’m slowly making progress with making Alex go and look at suits. And I have finally found a bridesmaid dress (well, sort of!) I’ve found a person who will make a bridesmaid dress for me and in the colours I want too! So much simpler than trying to find both a dress I like, as well as one that isn’t white or ivory!

I have also ordered the birdcages that will be for the centrepieces at the reception. As Alex and I are getting married on Easter Monday, we’re having a slight theme of spring to our reception, which is actually great! There are so many things that can be done, especially as Conkers (where our reception is) is outdoors-y and woodland-y.

I’m trying to include Alex as much as possible – I’ve seen enough films where the bride just takes over and the groom has no say whatsoever. I don’t want that to be the case! It’s OUR special day, not just mine.

Things are slowly taking shape though. The majority of the big things are sorted (although not necessarily paid for yet!) so it’s mainly just planning all of the other things! I’m definitely looking forward to more plannning! I am so glad that I’m trying to stay on top of it all, as I haven’t really felt stressed about it at all yet – I suppose there’s still time though!