Sunday, 21 June 2015

Summer 'To-Do' List


Summer is my favourite time of the year. I love the sun, being outside, going on holiday and I always associate it with 'the summer holiday' - a long break from school/college/university. But what if this is my last summer holiday? After 16 years of at least 6-8 weeks off in the summer, to 4 months of freedom whilst at uni, being constrained to 4 weeks off A YEAR seems PREPOSTEROUS. So I've decided that I've got to make the most of it, not waste days...let alone weeks, and enjoy having my own time to do what I want (and secretly hope for a summer 2016 of graduate unemployment). 

Ordinarily, to make sure I do have a wonderful summer, I've made a 'to-do' list: 


Read 

During term time, I rarely make it through a novel. It's not because I don't have the time, it's just that the last thing I want to do after a day of reading academic papers, or staring at a screen, is read more. I also feel guilty when I'm reading for pleasure, neglecting the academic reading I should be doing. So, gradually, a pile of books builds itself up ready for the summer - and this summer, I'm going to try and read a book a week. On my list for the next few weeks are: The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins), A God in Ruins (Kate Atkinson) and The Blind Assassin (Margaret Atwood). Any recommendations would also be much appreciated! 

Spend 'proper' time with friends

For the last couple of years, my friends and I have been spread across the UK for most of the year. This allows for a quick coffee amongst all the family festivities at Christmas, a brunch in a revision break at Easter, and maybe even time for a whole afternoon together at some point over the summer, in between working, holidays etc. But this year I want to make sure I spend some more time with my friends; I really miss having my closest friends around me for large parts of the year, and I want to make sure we don't just have brief catch-ups and spend some 'proper' time together doing fun stuff! 

 Go on holiday

Summer doesn't really feel like summer until you've had a holiday! I think it's really important to spend time somewhere different, away from home and 'everyday life', to really have a break. This year I'm off to Italy for a couple of weeks, visiting Milan, Lake Como, Florence, Rome and Sicily - and I can't wait. I love going to new places, and I'm gradually compiling a list of all the things I want to do whilst I'm there. I can't wait to spend a few weeks in the sun with Simon and our lovely friends, exploring and relaxing. I also love a 'staycation'! There are so many beautiful places in the UK, and so much of it that I haven't seen. This summer I have weekends in Plymouth, Exeter, Wiltshire and a surprise trip for Simon's birthday to look forward to!

Try something new

It's so easy just to do the things you know are easy. I've been really guilty of this in the last 6 months, staying safely in my comfort zone, and not trying new things. But the summer is a time to make a change, and a time where you have fewer excuses not to. The first new thing I'm trying is pilates. I know I need to do some exercise, and I know the only way I'll consistently do it is if I book classes that I pay for, and therefore MUST go to. With a huge focus on breathing and connecting, as well as strengthening and toning, I think pilates is definitely a good starting point. 

 Cook/bake

My New Year's Resolution was to cook something new every week - and it was going really well until I had exams, and then went home and had someone else to cook for me. But I definitely want to get back into it. I find cooking, especially baking, really relaxing and rewarding. I love the instant gratification of making something and having the finished product so quickly. I also like looking after people, and feeding them seems to be a really fulfilling way of doing this. This summer I want to master some more tasty vegetarian dishes, Greek food and pastries! 

Go on adventures!

For me, 'adventuring' is about going to new places. They don't have to be far away, abroad, just somewhere you've never been before. I feel like Simon and I made it our goal last summer to go on as many adventures as we could, and I can't wait to do it again this year! There are so many places, even in both London and Sussex, that I've never been and I want to make sure I do visit them and appreciate the culture, history, nature that's right on my doorstep  Staycations, again, are a brilliant opportunity to explore new places and all they have to offer. 

Spend as much time outside as I can

Whether it's eating dinner on the patio, spending an afternoon reading in the garden, going for a walk, a day at the beach I want to spend sunny days outside! After months spent indoors, revising, doing exams, having the freedom just to go outside and do what I want and when I want is unreasonably liberating! Over this last week, I've been on some lovely countryside walks, had sunny picnics with friends, played games in Hyde Park, read my book in the garden, and it's just been great. Being outside always really lifts my mood, and makes me appreciate all the time and opportunities I have a whole lot more. 

Birthdays!

Much to my envy, lots of my friends have summer birthdays. I love birthdays, and I always spend lots of time thinking about, making, buying and wrapping presents. This year is a bit of a double whammy, with lots of friends graduating, I'm finding more and more excuses to buy and make lots of little gifts! Simon's birthday is always the hardest, but also the most fun to plan! We go on birthday trips, so arranging several days of fun, as well as other little treats, is my favourite! I've also got lots of friends turning 21, so exciting celebrations (and associated gifts) are in order. 

Spending time with my family

The last couple of weeks mostly spent at home are the first extended period of time I've spent at home since last July/August. I didn't realise how much I'd missed being at home, and spending time with my family until I got back. Now my brother has finished his A Levels, I'm looking forward to hanging out with him. For us, summer is characterised by Uno tournaments in the garden on sunny afternoons. My mum is around much more, so I'm excited to spend some days chilling with her, as well as begging her to take me holiday clothes shopping! I always try and make an effort to spend a good amount of time with my grandma, and I'm looking forward to being back and close to her. 


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