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Forest Holidays – Blogmas Day 10

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A weekend away with serenity. That’s what it was. Absolute bliss.

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I went on a break away for the weekend, to a precious little place in Argyll, Scotland. It is known as forest holidays; they have a wide range of log cabins with luxurious hot tubs and otherworldly views in the middle of the woods – in a variety of places across the UK. I was blown away when I arrived at our home for the weekend. 

The log cabin was extraordinary. Huge. We had 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (one was an en-suite), a gigantic kitchen with everything you could possibly need, a large living area, spectacular windows with the most beautiful scenic views and of course, a bloody big hot tub out on the decking underneath the stars. Sublime. What more could you possibly want?

We had the best of the best of everything. Underfloor heating? Amazing. The sofa was so comfy, the bed was super snug and the pillows were like the fluffiest marshmallows. Getting out of bed in the morning was ridiculously hard because it was just so cosy and enticing…but then so was the hot tub!

The hot tub was absolutely fabulous. We spent so much time just lounging around, relaxing in the hot tub, listening to the birds singing in the trees and watching the sun go down. I honestly would give anything to go back. It’s like being in a different world entirely. 

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I never thought I could possibly feel like I was on holiday in my own country. Alas, I did. I felt like I was so far away from all of the hustle and bustle and the reality of the real world. It was wonderful. Our cabin was perfect, the views were indescribable and the weekend was so precious and memorable. I would go back in a heartbeat. 

As a writer, a cabin away from the world, with stunning views and tons of space is the equivalent of paradise. My mind felt so free. If only I didn’t have an essay to write whilst I was away I would have worked my way through reading so many books and I’d have wrote some exciting blog posts or poetry. I felt so inspired. 

Writing about my stay here is making me want to go back right this very second. It’s my new safe space. I would go every weekend if I could. No word of a lie. It was 110% worth it. Forest Holidays have hit the nail on the head with this place and I’m sure all of their other destinations are just as good. They are pet friendly, so you can take your little furry friends with you, they have car parking facilities for you to keep a wee eye on your car from your cabin (which I don’t recommend doing when it’s dark if you have a fear of wild animals as we may have bumped in to a wild deer whilst popping out to bring some more juice in)! Oh, it was just fantastic! Absolutely marvellous. 

Have you ever been to stay at a log cabin? Did you love it as much as I did? Have you heard of Forest Holidays before? Let me know in the comments.

Until Tomorrow,

Charlene McElhinney

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Lydia Wilkins guest post – Blogmas Day 9

Make my Christmas

By Lydia Wilkins

 Disclaimer: Aspergers syndrome is a spectrum condition, meaning that “one size does not fit all”, in terms of help given. This post is written to raise awareness of the condition; what you do as a result of it is your own responsibility.pexels-photo-225251

 Hello everyone,

 My name is Lydia; I am eighteen, and I blog over at mademoisellewomen.com. My blog has been running for just over five years now; here, I use the space I have on the internet to document my Aspergers. (Because, like other invisble/visible disabillities, and mental health issues, it is still incredibly misunderstood.)

 I was diagnosed two months shy of my sixteenth birthday; I had always not been a fan of loud noises, dressed myself in a way to conform to hypersensitivity issues, and not had many friends. Many people often thought that I was either a loner, or very strange-because, well, who wants to talk politics, rather than which boy in our year was really cute?! (I chatted about politics; most chatted about the latter.)

 In the run up to Christmas, some things I sometimes find hard to get along with, amongst the feverish excitment, the wrapping, and shopping for a tree. So, whilst keeping in mind that everyone with Aspergers is different, due to it being a spectrum disorder, I thought that I’d like to write what my ideal Christmas is, and how some issues can be resolved.

 Firstly… noise. There is so much noise round Christmas! I lack a way to filter noise internally, so I can be overwhelmed by it at times. Try walking into a shop: there’s All I Want For Christmas continually playing, lots of people-all hustling and bustling-colours, the tannoy announcment calling for extra staff help, the toys on display bust out a tune.. Lots of people on Christmas Day can also be quite overwhelming for me. (If you’d like to know more about the impact of noise, click here. https://mademoisellewomen.com/2017/10/31/aspergers-environments/ To read more about noise and Aspergers, read this. https://mademoisellewomen.com/2017/10/09/its-all-in-the-sound/ . This Christmas, if a place is too loud for me, I’ll either be in my bedroom, or another place, to calm down. (Usually I have a podcast or music to listen to.) I’d like for this to be understood just that little bit more.

 Social expectations are also hard to manage. Personally, I can’t read body language or faces very well, apart from the basic; you smiling? You’re happy. Frowning? Sad. Sometimes, though, I often find myself forced into a gesture I’m not comfortable with. So: if I’m with you, please don’t be cross if I fail to respond-I usually take just a little bit longer than the average person does.

 And the final thing is: remember that I am a person, too! Just because I am a person who is autistic does not mean that I dislike, or can’t celebrate, Christmas. (Even though the opening paragraphs of this post may have sounded like a Scrooge!) But so far this year, I have arranged a mini card swap, gone Christmas shopping, got involved with a secret santa, and shopped for a tree. I love Christmas! Just not the noise and confusing social expectations…

 Happy Christmas,

 Lydia

I just want to thank Lydia for her contribution to my blogmas this December, what a fabulous guest post, and what an honour to have you! Remember you guys can check out Lydia’s blog here

Until tomorrow,

Charlene McElhinney

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*Image source: pexels*

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Bah Humbug! – Blogmas Day 8

As you get older, Christmas starts to lose its magic, and you need to find a way to rekindle that little spark of enchantment because it’s only once a year right?

But before you know it, it’s that time again. Suddenly Christmas is upon us. You’re out of pocket again, stressed beyond belief, running around at the speed of sound with Mariah Carey blaring in your ears (or Michael Buble, either way it’s mince), you’ve got a list as long as your arm of people to buy for that you’ve probably seen once throughout the year – most likely at a funeral or at your great aunt’s cousin’s daughter’s party… I digress. It’s just such a hullabaloo.

I’m not a ‘bah-hambug’ really. I like sending Christmas cards, I do feel my heart warming when I see kids carol singing (usually only in movies nowadays though), I do like spending time with family and giving gifts and feeling generally Christmas-y. I do enjoy this time of year. Despite my rather Negative Nancy attitude at the beginning. All I’m saying is I’m 21-years-old and each year Christmas loses another little sparkle of magic. It just ups and goes. And so do family members. Each year there seems to be someone less at the table. I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer but how can Christmas ever possibly be the same, when someone who has sat at your table for 18+ years and pulled crackers with you and wore silly hats just because it’s what you do at a Christmas table, is all but an empty presence around you? It needs to be filled and it can’t be filled. So we all wear our silly hats, pull crackers, make conversation and pretend everything is normal but it’s not.

Christmas. It doesn’t phase me. I like spoiling my parents and spreading gifts across the living room floor like they did with us when we were little; I revel in watching them take turns in opening them one by one and seeing the joy and appreciation on their sweet faces. I look forward to watching my Coronation Street Christmas special. I like watching the same old Christmas movies they play on the TV throughout the day. Of course I like receiving gifts, who doesn’t? I like scrolling down my timeline and seeing what my friends are getting up to during the festivities. Apart from that, there’s not too much I like about Christmas.

Christmas dinner? Not for me. I don’t like it. In fact, I’ve never had it, but I know I wouldn’t like it. Getting all dressed up on Christmas day to walk around the house? It’s such a palava and I’d much rather lounge around in my new fluffy PJs.

Getting older sucks. We lost my Gran a couple of years ago and I was exceedingly close with her and it broke me. It’ll never be the same without her. This year, my brother is a daddy for the first time, and I’m genuinely so happy and excited for him but selfishly, I’m gutted he won’t be spending it with us. I’m over the moon he’s spending Christmas with his own little family now but I’ll miss him. It won’t be the same. My Gran’s gone. My brother’s gone. 2 empty seats. 2 silent voices. When you put it in to perspective it really does suck, doesn’t it?

Take me back to the times where Christmas was super exciting; my brother and I would stay up till crazy O’clock and then wake everyone up early bells. We would rush upstairs to play with our new toys – and always together. The evenings were great. We all had a sing-song and done some karaoke, my Gran’s beautiful voice filling the room, year after year. It’s been a few years now since we had a sing-song. I sat at the table with everyone and laughed and conversed even though I wasn’t eating what they were eating. Sometimes not eating at all. But I still sat with everyone. Now I just plop my ass on the couch because what’s the point? Is there a point?

Why do we continuously hype up Christmas when it’s such an anti-climax? Why do we invest so much money and time and stress on people who can’t be bothered to ask us how we are any other time of the year? Why do we show off on social media about the gifts we’ve been bought even though it’s what we have asked for and what everyone else has got? Damn. What has the world come to? What has this blog post come to?

I would say this is one of the most pessimistic posts I’ve ever wrote but I don’t think it is. But it’s up there with some of them. I didn’t intend on this post being so melancholy. I didn’t have any intentions for this post actually. I felt a rant coming on and so I took to writing. It’s what I do best.

I’m sorry if I’ve soiled your spirit for Christmas. I am really a cheery happy-go-lucky person but you’ve just caught me on a bad day. Everyone has those, right? Just usually not on the run up to Christmas, especially because of Christmas, but it is what it is.  

Until Tomorrow,

Charlene McElhinney

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Case App – Blogmas Day 7

I’m so thrilled to be collaborating with Case App again this year as I worked with them last year and I was so pleased with the quality of my goods and the service from the company. You can check out last year’s post hereif you wish and have a look at the phone case I created (for my iPhone 6 at the time).

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Case App specialize in customizable phone cases, laptop skins & designs for other technical devices. They make the process super easy for you and walk you through it, helping you create the phone case you envisage in your head, and bring it in to your hands. They also have a variety of designs for you to choose from and work with if you’re totally blank and don’t know what to create – you can choose from a plethora of patterns or images and just personalise the writing. It’s entirely up to you. That’s what I love about CaseApp.

This time round I decided to create a phone case resembling the cover of my very first published book. How amazing does it look? It was really easy to create and looks just like a smaller version of the front of my book so I’m dead pleased with it. People always notice folk’s phone cases, just like they always notice what shoes your wearing, so i definitely have a good story to tell on a night out when someone asks me what’s on my phone cover!  Shameless self-promotion…but hey you’ve got to when you’re self-published? 

Next up, I got to design my own skin cover for my laptop, which was a lovely treat. I’ve recently got a mac-book for university and I’ve been thinking about getting some stickers or something to jazz it up a bit and add a bit of personality to it so when I was told I could personalize my own skin? My inner-crazy-cat-lady did a little jig. I decided to go for an image of a rosetted bengal cat, just like my own, well maybe not as beautiful as my own (I can’t help but become bias when it comes to my fur babies, you pet owners understand right)? 

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I absolutely love it! I can’t wait for the xmas holidays to finish so I can take it in to university with me. I’m always banging on about my cats and shoving pictures of my fur babies in people’s faces so at least this is a little more discreet. Isn’t it just lovely though? It’s the perfect idea for a gift for someone who dotes on their animals. Get a photo of their beloved pet, customize a laptop skin or phone case with the photo, and boom there’s your dinner. 

I’ll even throw in a discount code for y’all to help you out. If you pop the code: CHARLENE20 in at checkout then you’ll receive 20% off your order. Happy shopping!

If you’re interested in picking up a copy of my book following the images above then click here and get a copy today.

Until tomorrow,

Charlene McElhinney

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Love Layla – Blogmas Day 6*

Happy day 6 of blogmas guys! Thank you for returning to my blog to see what content I’ve got for you today. I’m going to be introducing you to a small business & quirky brand called ‘Love Layla’ today and showcasing some fabulous Christmas related pieces they have got in store at the moment. 

First and foremost I want to tell you a wee bit about Love Layla’s background as this is what made me fall in love with them. They are a family run business (established 3 years ago) by a husband and wife in their very own dining room. The name of their business is dedicated to their precious 3 year old daughter, Layla. They specialise in greeting cards – which are usually witty, hilarious and sometimes rude and cheeky (an excellent gift for a partner or a sassy friend). They also sell wrapping paper, wine labels for bottles, calendars, balloons, badges and other bits and bobs. They have their own unique style and definitely stand out as a quirky and distinctive business. 

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I absolutely love supporting small business’ and always tend to sway more towards them at Christmas time! Love Layla are a fantastic brand to get cards for your friends, brothers or sisters and definitely your partners! The banter is spot on and will definitely stick out amongst all of of the other cards around them. Is eye-catching the word I’m looking for? Plus – the envelopes are luxurious! 

I can’t wait for my friends to receive mine! They are being properly spoiled this year.

There’s currently some fabulous special offers just in time for Christmas; you can buy any 3 xmas cards and receive some wrapping paper free, or buy 3 cards and get a lovely Love Layla calendar free for the new year and loads more! Go crazy guys whilst the offers last! 

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Have you heard of Love Layla before? Will you be having a shimmy at their site after reading this post? Go and show them some love as they’ve worked super hard to build up their business and they are absolutely smashing it!

Until tomorrow,

Charlene McElhinney

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*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Love Layla. All content & opinions are my own*

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Brig O’ Doon Photoshoot – Blogmas Day 5

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I had so much fun shooting on the Brig O’ Doon bridge, representing the Miss Glasgow finalists, for the Miss Ayrshire photoshoot. I’m so honoured that I was invited along and extremely glad that I went. It was such a great confidence boost!

The photoshoot was Rabbie Burns themed (with a contemporary twist); based on the Tam O’ Shanter poem. The models represented the witches in the poem and we were supposed to be chasing Tam over the bridge whilst he rides off on his motorbike. It really was as fun and amusing as it sounds! 

The photoshoot was in collaboration with Yamaha (who kindly provided us with the bike for the shoot) and with the lovely, talented, ladies at Ayrshire college – who are studying hair and beauty. We were lucky enough to be pampered and made-up to look witchy before the photoshoot by the students and I have to say: They did a magnificent job! They were all so chatty, friendly and professional and it was just such a relaxing environment to be in. 

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The 4 girls I was shooting with were honestly so so so genuinely nice. We all got along like a house on fire (was that a witchy enough simile)? It was a brilliant laugh, an excellent opportunity to learn how to professionally shoot and it was also a smashing confidence boost – for all of us, I’m sure! I’ll be meeting these girls again in the future and wish them the best of luck for the Miss Ayrshire final; they are all so deserving of that title! 

I have the Miss Glasgow photoshoot this week and I feel really calm about it all because of how successful the Brig O’ Doon shoot was. I hope the Miss Glasgow finalists are just as lovely as the Miss Ayrshire girls. I’m having so much fun being a part of something that’s so out of my comfort zone – it’s amazing what one can do when they give themselves that one big extra push. I’m immensely proud of myself. Can you tell?

What did you think of the photos? Are you going to go have a wee read at the Tam O’ Shanter poem now that you’ve seen the pics? Are you rooting for me for the final? Pop me a wee message below because I just love hearing from you guys!

*All photography contains original watermark. Big thanks to Simon John Photography*

NOTE: The final is over now and I wrote this post a few weeks ago but I wanted to save this post for blogmas!

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Climbing The Cobbler – Blogmas Day 4

If you’ve been keeping up to date with my Instagram and my other social media platforms you’ll know I’m currently on a wee break away at a beautiful little gold mine in Scotland, Argyll (which I’ll be writing about in the next few days). I wanted to share with you one of my experiences from whilst I was here: Climbing The Cobbler. 

The Cobbler is a mountain, a munro, in Scotland; also known as Ben Arthur. It is located in Argyll on the Arrochar Alps. I won’t get in to all of the geography and history of the mountain because I ain’t clued up on that sort of thing but I will tell you about my experience of giving this climb a go…

It was challenging. I didn’t realise how unfit I was until I was about 10 minutes in and I was already wanting to go back to the comfort of the hot-tub and call it a day. I had to keep stopping for breaks. I had to really push myself to keep going. I wanted to reach the top but I didn’t know if I had it in me. I kept pushing myself and pushing myself, willing myself to keep going, to push through it. I was sweating like mad and breathing so loud, so fast, I actually shocked myself. When did I get so unfit? I guess I’m not really as active as I used to be and I’m also the heaviest I’ve ever been so I’m carrying all this extra weight up a mountain that I ain’t used to – it really was strenuous. 

Let me tell you though, when I got to the top of that mountain, I felt on top of the world. Literally. I felt like I’d climbed to the pinnacle of the planet. The sound of the waterfall was deafening and the air was so fresh I could taste it. No amount of photos could ever do justice for the moment I experienced. Standing there, breathless and flushed, feeling like an absolute champion. I climbed this. I’ve earned this view. Nobody else is seeing what I am seeing. I am blessed.

What a magical experience. Was it gruelling? Oh yes. Was it worth it? One thousand times yes. I’d do it all over again. It was so revitalising and refreshing; it really did me the world of good. I’m not your usual outdoorsy type but I did it and I felt so good for it. I’ll never forget the moment I made it to the top. I’ll never forget the sound of that waterfall. I’ll never forget that time I climbed The Cobbler.

Until Tomorrow

Charlene McElhinney

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