I did a post a while back about the things that make me, me. And so I thought I'd do a Runkle edition. Because he's a fairly big character in this house and even though he spends half of his days curled up in the tree pretending to be a bird, he does things too (actually we're working on the exercise part...) and just like any animal, he likes the most peculiar of stuff..
I think maybe it's true what they say, that animals are similar to their owners...
Runkle likes eating. He really likes eating. But we have a routine.. He has dry biscuits throughout the day and then he has a wet pouch in the evening, and that's how we work. He enjoys cheeky treats every so often - and his latest favourite is the Gourmet Soup* pouches. Poured into a tapas bowl, he truly feels like he's ordered a Chicken & Sweetcorn soup from the local Chinese. And I believe he maybe wins the Guiness World Record for eating it the quickest. Oh and maybe the cleanest bowl ever.
Runkle likes affection. Runkle really likes affection, and has developed this weird habit where by he immediately comes and settles down onto my lap whenver I'm wearing a towel. I'm not sure how it started, or why it pleases him, but wherever he is or whatever he's up to - you can guarantee that within seconds of me sitting on the side of my bed to 'dry', he'll be there in a flash..!
Runkle likes slobbing. Runkle always has a reason to slob. And his latest one involves his legs set apart, laying on his back and expecting a full face massage. If you've never given your cat a face massage (just under their cheek area), then try it. You'll enjoy it as much as them!
Runkle likes hibernating. Runkle is partial to hiding in places where he believes nobody will ever find him. The only problem is, is that if it's not his big ears poking out of the drawers, it's his big butt hanging out from under the bed. But to be fair, I don't blame him from hibernating when it's raining.
Nobody wants to sit outside all day...
Runkle likes daydreaming. Genuinely, Runkle daydreams. He spends his evenings looking out at the blank wall, or the morning sat on the windowsill watching the world go by. And when he's asleep? Oh he sure dreams a lot. Sometimes he runs (not too much though, it tires him out!), and sometimes he catches things. And other times he thinks about food. Gourmet Soup food I bet..!
Runkle likes me. And I like him. Which is what makes us a right little pair!
Although actually, there's a new friend in town who's currently beating me to the BFF title.
I'm not sure I'm cool with this - it's a good job he's cute!
The cat that is, not the new friend. Actually, he is too...
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Hours can be spent lost on AirBnB, looking for cosy places to hide away for the night or somewhere quirky where you can spend a few days eating and relaxing, because the options are endless. And after telling ourselves we'd attempt an adventure each month, we wanted somewhere fun and different for March. With my incredible experiences in procrastinating, I sent over three various wagons and huts and eventually we opted for this wagon in the woods.
Because, LOOK at that window!
And you know, any bath is good. But a bath hidden under the floor is even better!
With the car loaded up of Camembert, Disaronno, nibbles and our muddiest boots, we headed to Medstead and found ourselves driving around the country roads taking in the peaceful surroundings before we eventually rocked up at Plum Cottage and greeted by the chickens in the garden (Papa asked me to steal him five for his garden...).
The wagon itself was built by the host, Ralph, and you know what, it's an impressive job for sure! Everything was thought about with care. Already this place didn't seem to disappoint.
Considering the size of the wagon (it's actually bigger than the pictures look!), I liked the little touches that added to it - with the fake flowers, and the wireless radio. And that kettle!
The sink was also a quirky addition with a bucket attached to the wood - although washing up a pan in that wasn't the easiest of tasks!
Once Ralph had showed us around, we slipped off our shoes (actually, we did that at the front door), and had ourselves some cider and beer whilst mustering up some energy for the hour walk to the nearest pub.
We were recommended The Yew Tree which was the closest, and as we walked through the muddy footpath, the sun decided to come out making it a blissfull late afternoon.
After losing our bearings (I mean, we weren't lost, we just took a detour...) and playing auction with the sheep (and stopping to say hi to every single animal!) we eventually turned up at what could only be described as a proper, traditional English pub. Sunday afternoons spent drinking cider and chatting are certainly the best way to relax.
Feeling pretty smug that we'd made it back to the wagon just before the sunset, we turned on the heater and opened some more ciders where we spent majority of the late afternoon and evening listening to chilled music and making the most of this quaint little place before realising we'd filled up the fridge with snacks and goodies for the night!
With our stomachs full from cheese and pulled pork, and sour cream dipped tortilla's (guilty for being the dip hogger...), we decided to make full use of the fire facitlities so wrapped ourselves up and headed outside where we spent three hours drinking Disaronno, putting more logs on the fire and talking about anything and everything, all whilst being fascinated with the absolute peacefulness of the night.
Well apart from the sneaky little hare's who kept skipping by. And maybe scaring me..
Being a big fan of the natural light, we headed to bed with the curtains open because I was adamant the view in the morning woudln't disappoint. And it didn't. Even at 6am when we were woken to the sound of chickens having a party (so it sounded anyway!). I still couldn't get over just how calm and private the wagon was. It really was a perfect hideaway for a night.
Of course we couldn't start the morning without a bath, especially when it was too appealing besides the open window overlooking the fields. With the soft bubbles filling up the tub and the kettle boiling for fresh tea, it was the perfect combination to make use of the sunny morning before we were due to leave.
I think I want a bath in my ground now...
The best part though about the Wagon? Seeing these on the shelf! And ironically, it was only the day before where I'd joked that we should buy some Wagon Wheels so we could eat them in said Wagon. I guess Ralph was already ten steps ahead.
Except when I was at school, Wagon Wheels weren't the coolest of biscuit bars.
They were the ones you tried to trade in...
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It's such a circle, is life, and one where something in your life could be incredibly good, very strong and makes you feel all the feels, but having that can also highlight other areas that aren't quite how you want them to be. But the thing about us, the thing about life, is that we can make changes.
We can control our happiness. And decide how to do that. Which in my eyes, is a pretty beautiful and powerful thing. And we can also find beauty in the simplest of things. Those pleasures that we sometimes take for granted.
Here's my favourite five this week:

Morning light. There is nothing I love more than waking up, and the morning light striking through the thin white curtains and even more so now that Spring has arrived. Having fresh, crisp white bedding and the faint warmth from the radiator really does start my day just right. The morning can truly be such a delicate thing.

Weekends. My diary is full until the middle of May with exciting adventures, pyjama weekends with the girls, weddings and birthdays and it's everything and more of a weekend for me.

Independence. We are so lucky that we live in a world where we can do or be and see what we want. Which means that we can travel whenever and wherever we choose to go, and we can push ourselves to do things out of our comfort zone. For me, this is becoming a huge thing, and although it may feel daunting and scary at the start, once I've pushed myself and tried something, I don't half feel like I do have the ability to do things. That makes me happy.

A little black top. I treated myself (actually mama did) to a little black ribbed bardot style top, and I think I'm in love. Teamed with my high waisted jeans and my soft pink heels, it makes me feel like Sandy from Grease and that makes me feel sassy.

Daffodils. They brighten up my desk at work, and they're only £1. What's not to love about that once a week throughout Spring?

"Of this be sure: You do not find the happy life - you make it."
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This year, I was introduced to Oh Wonder  (not them actual selves, I mean, that would be intense. For them more than me) and quite honestly, they've appeared in every one of my playlists I've created in the last few months, and played constantly because basically,

I just can't stop listening to them.

As you know from my previous music posts, I'm all about the chilled songs, the ones that are perfect for a lazy Sunday morning or an afternoon chilling in the park drinking fizz with the girls.  Actually, I like listening to that kind of music anywhere and everywhere (I'd even stretch to say running. Maybe that's why I run slow? Who am I kidding.. I don't run anymore!), so for me, Oh Wonder are up there. They fit my bill. Just so.

And on Tuesday evening, I popped on my leather jacket and suede boots and went to join a room full of teens to see them for myself, at The Institute in Birmingham. Because that place rocks.
They did not disappoint (not that I thought they would anyway..).
Supporting Oh Wonder, were another band who'd appeared in my Clouds playlist recently, Aquilo - who filled the room with their soft and calm electro pop vibes. They performed two of my favourites with I Gave It All and You There which definitely left an atmosphere that was a combination of calm and dreamy, even if a little sad and heartfelt. But hey, I'm all for those songs - and brownie points to Oh Wonder for having them as their support act!

Oh Wonder themselves, made up of Josephine and Anthony, were everything and more at a gig. With the intimacy of such a venue like The Insitute, they performed their debut album with such passion and delicacy for their fans, that it almost left me wishing I was a musical creation (it's best I leave my singing just to the car...) Having Josephine's softening voice alongside Anthony's calming notes compliment each other ridiculously well and have you utterly caught on every single lyric that is sung, and having them both co-lead the vocals really gives a focus from both the male and female view. They remind me of the likes of Angus and Julia Stone with their mellow alt tunes and incredible talent.

They performed what was my favourite songs, All We Do and Without You, which were even more incredible in person, and after hearing Landslide live, I'm a complete Oh Wonder fan. Not only is it a beautifully written song but seeing them play with such passion and happiness with the crowd joining in, made this the winning song of the night for me.
I've since decided that actually, it's my new favourite one of theirs.
So much that I've not stopped playing it all week (already I know!).

Oh Wonder, you've become my ultimate top artists to see live.
Now if you don't mind, I'm off to listen to Landslide over and over, whilst I dance around the house in my pants. Yes. Music does that to me..
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Dating.
It's a whole new ball game. Especially when you've never basically 'dated' before.
When you're in primary school, you have a new boyfriend every five minutes (well, I didn't.. I probably pretended I did), and then you hit secondary school and you just 'hang out' with a guy, and then you 'hang out' with another guy, because he's nicer/cooler/hotter/funnier. And you always seem to have options. Backup as the girls and I regularly said.

I've always been the 'relationship' type admittedly. I dated a few guys when I was younger (I try to keep those memories hazy...), and embarked on my 'first love' when I was 17. It was bliss.
And just like things in life, it ended after two years. We grew up.
I was heartbroken. Completely and utterly felt like life would never be the same.
I didn't want anyone else, because I thought that was all love had to offer me.
Within months, I moved abroad and I had a new boyfriend. At the time I didn't feel like I was going out of my way to find a boyfriend, but maybe in hindsight, it was peace of mind, a comfort, being in a relationship. I liked the security knowing that someone was there for me and I learnt to settle.
But after eighteen months, it turned sour. I became a doormat.
And I made the decision (after the tenth time debating), to leave it. To walk away.
Even though he hurt me, he made me weak and he changed me - it was still hard.
I became a person who didn't really know what she wanted. I felt a little unsure on relationships, and one night with a part time job under my belt, and Wednesday and Saturday evenings spent drinking, I trawled through my phonebook and messaged some 'friends'

"Hey stranger. long time no speak, how are things? I'm back in the country now" Would be good to meet up... "

I had backup. There was always X from school who we'd never quite had a thing with, or Y from down the road who made me laugh. And it's what I needed. I needed to feel needed.
That's what I thought at twenty one. Because, all my friends had guys, so I wanted one too.

My single period lasted five months, where I spent that Summer texting and hanging out with four different guys over that time. I didn't sleep with any of them. We just hung out a lot. Comfort.
I wasn't really very good at being single.

So I moved abroad again. Not to find 'the one'. But because I needed to break free from what I knew. From the same crowd. And sure enough, I returned to England, five months later with a boyfriend in tow.
Actually, that's a lie. I was prepared to 'see you later' - but life had other options. And five years in, we had the house, we had a life built up. The longest relationship of all.  And it was content.
But when that broke apart last year, things couldn't have been more different from the other break ups.
I didn't want to be wanted.
I didn't want to find another guy right away.
I didn't want anyone.
I wanted to find out about me.
I wanted to do things for myself.
And I wanted to just have fun.
And if that meant being single, then I guess I'll take it.

So I did that. I didn't think about men and I didn't go out drinking to find a guy, and after joining Plenty of Fish for five minutes and deleting it, I realised I wasn't ready at all. But it was OK, I didn't need to rush. I was a grown up, with responsibilities. New priorities. I was just floating about, spending precious time with the girls and doing things I'd never done before. And what happens, when it happens, will.
And it did. One day, I decided that maybe, maybe I was ready to venture into the dating world.
I joined Tinder.
Yes, I joined Tinder.

What people do not tell you however, is that being single at an age where you're friends are getting engaged, they're buying houses, or they're popping out babies and bringing home cute little animals - is that, being single is damn hard work.
Nobody wants to go out with you to party. There's no-one to go speed dating with you. You don't have a dog to take for a walk. So you don't meet people on a night out, you don't get the opportunity to talk to strangers whilst being timed, and you can't accidentally fall in a puddle and be swept off your feet by the cute dog walker.
2015 doesn't work like that anymore.
We join dating apps, we talk to our circle of friends or we get matched up with our best friends sisters work friends brother. And we have to try and impress.
And you know what, trying to sell yourself is no easy task.

"Hi, my name is Katy. I like eating cheese, and sitting in my pants wondering if I can have another ice cream after eating six earlier. I also have a cat, who's awesome! That's all."

I mean, would YOU be interested?
And don't get me started on choosing which pictures make the selection.
The girls in the left corner are telling me that I look pretty, and cute and really nice in that lovely dress I wore to the wedding. But the guys are telling me I look hot and fun in the one standing in a field in a cute dress not taking myself seriously.
Which one would show me at my best? That I can be all of the above, and more.
THESE are real life issues. The daily struggles.
But I persisted. People had done it. I'd heard mixed reviews that sometimes it was the worst place to go, it made you feel less of a person, and it wasn't 'real life'. But then I'd also seen the rewards from it, friends with partners who they'd met from it. So it CAN happen.
And hey, as my papa always told me - try something, and if it doesn't work out then try something else.
Although, I'm not so sure he meant that advice for dating too..

Tinder taught me a lot. Actually, dating taught me a lot.
To begin with, it was kinda fun, swiping people you thought were fairly decent, ones you debated if you'd take home to meet your parents, or ones you thought would make for a comical evening. I won't lie and say I got great pleasure from seeing some of the variety of images that men believe are impressive. No mate, I'm not interested in the tiger you met, or how low your v neck vest is, and I won't spend an hour debating which one in the group shot you are, because I'm bored, and luckily I can swipe away. Quickly too. I have hoovering to do, washing to put on, and girlfriends to catch up with.
But that was the beauty of it. I could swipe anywhere. Whenever and wherever I wanted.
It almost become a game.
It was a game to some. As I so learnt.
But I didn't learn to begin with. I liked that a guy who'd never met me before, gave me attention. That he potentially wanted to meet me. That he wanted to go out for a drink with me, or come and spend Sunday afternoon with me. It was exciting, because there was potential for it to lead to more (and no, I'm not one of those who was secretly pinning wedding things on a board, just incase!) rather than just hooking up. But like a lot of things in life, it doesn't always work out. People come and go.
I tried to be someone for a while, I wanted to impress people and I tried hard to be liked. I tried really hard. I embarked on different things, and I became a free spirit.

But all along, I wasn't being me.

One guy questioned why I didn't wear clothes that fitted my body shape better rather than those baggy tops, or put on a little more make up in the evening to make myself more ladylike.  I ordered a bodycon dress the following night and invested in some face powder to make myself look more presentable.
One guy told me I was needy when I asked if he wanted to hang out one evening in the week after we'd spent the last two weeks pretty much together on his terms. I debated whether he was right and asked my friends for reassurance and why I came across needy even when I'm not.
One guy made me feel really good,, and then just like that told me the spark had gone and left my house where I never heard from him again. I cried all the way to work that morning.
One guy accepted when I offered to pay half for the bill and then he decided he'd pay even though he wasn't quite so happy about it. I decided that actually, a free pizza was the best thing about that date.
One guy turned out to be racist, and then belittled me saying he wouldn't talk politics to me when I know nothing, and that he hoped I find someone with no opinion like myself. I laughed.

And after I laughed off the last guy, I realised how much I'd changed. I'd become myself again.

All those experiences, those awkward dates, those adventurous evenings, and those spontaneous plans had made me myself again. I'd opened myself up to people, wearing my heart on my sleeve and then I became a closed book, keeping my feelings to myself, had messed with me a little. I cried when things didn't work out, I questioned where I'd gone wrong and I spent a lot of time asking for advice and reassurance from friends on how to approach/respond/deal with guys. I lived off little sleep, and I said yes to seeing people when it suited them. I made myself look nice all the time, and I didn't embarrass myself for fear of being looked down on. I deleted Tinder, and re-installed it more times than I eat cheese - because it left me feeling sad, and empty sometimes. But then it also made me feel attractive, like I was fun and that I had potential to be wanted.
A dating app made me feel all these things.
It had taken over my life a little, it had become the norm. But it had shaped me.
It taught me that I didn't need to try hard, or be something I wasn't.
It taught me not to be ashamed of myself, and what I say or do.
It taught me to wear what I feel comfortable in.
It taught me that I'm actually a fairly nice person, and fun to be around.
It taught me that asking for reassurance everyday from friends, will never make for a successful relationship with a guy.
It taught me to be confident with myself.
It taught me that I didn't need to feel so up and down from anyone. Ever.
And it taught me mostly, that, what will be, will be.

Things happen to us when you least expect them.

Maybe on Tinder too.

Am I ashamed that I joined Tinder? Well, I was until I left it for good at the start of the year..
(I'll leave you to work that one out...)
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January - the month of calm after the storm, the month when people start saving for the year ahead, and making plans slowly. For me, it was all about doing different things, and trying to find time to wash my knickers in between the constantly filled diary. It was also the month when a spontaneous trip to Bruges was planned for the end of February. Because, why not!
And with it only being roughly four hours from door to door, we couldn't help but load up the car and travel down in independent style (plus there's more opportunity for toilet stops...).
After a morning of faffing and luckily catching the delayed Eurotunnel, we arrived in Bruges early afternoon and found ourselves immediately blown away by the architecture of the buildings hidden down endless cobbled streets and propped up against the calm canal.
We located our hotel (which was absolutely so beautiful and quaint!) and took advantage of the parking before agreeing that a good choice was made for our stay! We wrapped ourselves up ready to brave the cold blue sky and had decided to spend all weekend pottering. Without a plan. Except finding a pub for drinks once we'd gotten lost down the back streets, and some traditional Belgium food to keep us going for the rest of the day. Chicken Waterzooi from t'Voutje is a winner! Creamy heaven.
We woke up Sunday morning and opted for a lazy one, making the most of the hotel and the view from the window overlooking the canal. The hustle and bustle from Saturday had calmed down, and instead the streets seemed fairly quiet. And with some fresh croissants and jam in our stomachs, we wrapped up even warmer than the day before, and went in search of culture. Belgium culture.
We'd done a little bit of research on places to eat and visit before we arrived, and Sophie had recommended to visit the windmills as one thing. With the edge of Bruges being only a 20 minute walk, it was a no brainer to head that way taking in all the houses and wondering just what happened behind each closed door. This place had me fascinated completely.
Stumbling across the Frites museum seemed like the best discovery, and without any hesitation we'd brought our tickets and rushed inside. It's fair to say we were sorely disappointed, and found the only thing that got our attention was when you got to role play at making chips yourself! We did however debate the Torture museum after this let down, and actually was the best decision, with it turning out to be far more impressive - and also a realisation at how intrigued I was by morbid things...
I fell in love with this little house on the way back to the hotel. The fact it was on the quiet part of the canal, it had beautiful big windows (imagine all the light), and a quick spot of a cat in the neighbourhood, had me debating whether it was possible to buy said house...
Sunday night was spent in one of the nicest Greek restaurant's I've eaten in, The Olive Tree, with wine and endless helpings of Tzatziki, made for a very satisfied stomach. We debated heading to the Jazz Bar as we'd heard good reviews, but instead opted for a slow walk back through the market square to make the most of the warm hotel room ready for a morning consisting of waffles and fresh orange juice!
We had no plans on Monday, and didn't have to leave till 4pm so we ambled around some more, and decided to venture the opposite way to where we'd walked before. We came across the local area brimming with cute shops, perfectly quaint restaurants and the brightest blue sky showing Bruges off to it's full capacity. Loaded up with Belgium chocolates, and agreeing that we'd seen enough the place, we found a little Burger joint and filled us up ready for the journey home.
A pretty tasty burger with some pretty tasty fries too. And when they put sweetcorn in your salad, you always know it's going to be good. FACT.
Bruges. you have completely changed my view on cities - because I liked you. I liked you a lot infact. 
So much that you've already become one of my favourite trips away...
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