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A lovely weekend

To say I had a glorious weekend would be a bit of an understatement. (I’ll get to that in a minute…)

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately. I don’t know if it was tiredness or loneliness or a little bit of everything but I was starting to feel like nobody liked me. It’s not anything that anyone has done or said, it’s just with the all the house renovations and Nick working away for a few weeks, that we’ve been too poor and busy to really see anybody. I don’t have that many friends and I’m okay with that, I’ve always been more of a ‘few & special’ than a big cluster of acquaintances kinda gal. But over the past week we’ve managed to finally catch up with a couple of people who mean a lot to us and it’s made me feel much better. I always thought I was okay with my own company, which I am, but it’s really made me realise how important it is to connect with other people. There’s also a glorious bunch of local blogger ladies on Whatsapp that cheer up my days endlessly <3.

In other news, my sister-in-law Neile has finally started a blog after years & years of me telling her she’d be awesome at it. She’s super nervous about it so if you could all go follow her on Twitter & show her some love that would be awesome.

A side-effect of this is that seeing her excitement about it has made me realise why I started doing this in the first place. After 5 years of blogging, it’s easy to become complacent and disheartened by the whole thing and to be honest, over the past year, I’ve seriously considered shutting my blog down several times. But hearing her talk excitedly about people retweeting her and commenting on her blog has given me a fresh perspective on it that I feel I really needed.

Anyway, back to my awesome weekend (which kind of starts with Thursday…)

Our favourite pizza place, Da Marios is closing for a little while so they can extend so I said I’d take Nick there for Father’s Day before they shut as we thought it would be quieter than trying to go somewhere on Sunday. It was a beautiful evening so we decided to stop off at the beach on the way so Huxley could splash in the sea.

Branksome Dene ChineMiddle Chine BournemouthBranksome Beach DorsetBranksome Dene Chine PooleBranksome Dene Chine stairsGruffalo crocs

Huxley found a seashell in the sand that he was convinced was an ice-cream…

Da Mario pizza BournemouthDa Mario pizza Westbourne

Friday was pretty busy. Nick had the dentist in the morning and I got stuck in the car with a napping Huxley. Then we went to Bournemouth to do a bit of shopping, Castlepoint to buy some plants and bits from B&Q and then to the Quomps at Christchurch so Huxley could run around in the amazing free splash park that they have there. In the evening our friends Lauren & Ben came over as Lauren is also our accountant and she helped us do our tax returns and we stuffed our faces with delicious curry.

A photo posted by Emma Baines (@thestylebox) on

Free summer fun for kids in Christchurch DorsetQuomps splash park ChristchurchChristchurch Quay free water park for kidsFree things to do with children in Dorset Saturday morning was spent in the garden with my granddad as it’s a bit of a jungle! He ripped up a load of unwanted plants and bushes and replanted the good ones and it’s so much neater. Nick had been up since 3am to get his smoker nice and hot as he wanted to do some pulled pork for our friends Nick & Amy who were coming over. I made an amazing salad from the DeliciouslyElla app that went down well too and we had a lovely catch-up.

A photo posted by Emma Baines (@thestylebox) on

Sunday morning was spent baking some cookies before we went to see Nick’s dad for Father’s Day. Nick’s sister was also there with Elsie & Hadley so we went to a local pub with a park so the kids could run around together. Then we came home and I may have played a sneaky bit of bingo on my mobile* while Nick made strawberry and balsamic vinegar ice-cream and I could have eaten my own bodyweight of it. Literally amazing.

A photo posted by Emma Baines (@thestylebox) on

This is a collaborative post.
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One Direction in Cardiff

On Friday I drove to Cardiff with all three of my little sisters to see One Direction in concert. It was amazing. But very stressful!

When we originally booked the tickets in December, we were going to leave nice and early, spend the day looking around Cardiff, stop for some lunch, go to the concert, stay overnight, sleep in, do some more exploring and then head home.

What happened was not even close. A few weeks ago we found out that one of my sisters had a GCSE exam on the day of the concert, meaning that we couldn’t leave until 3.30pm. It’s a 3-hour drive to Cardiff on a good day so we knew we’d be cutting it fine but figured we’d just about get there before it all started. We hadn’t factored in the fact that there were two enormous concerts happening across the street from one another and that there would be 45-mile tailbacks down the M4.

Then my other sister announced that she was going on holiday the day after the concert meaning we’d have to get up bright and early so that she could be back for lunchtime to catch a flight to Spain.

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I’m the oldest, but the shortest! #verticallychallenged

So, after a 5-hour drive we arrived at Cardiff at 8pm, knowing we’d already missed the two support acts, one of which was McBusted which my sisters were very excited about. One Direction were due on stage at 8pm so there was a lot of frantic Twitter-checking to see if we were missing out. We pulled up to the park-and-ride to find that the last bus had left half an hour ago and that we had to call a taxi to get into town. The park-and-ride was £10 a car. The taxi into town was £13.80 and we’d have to get a taxi home as we didn’t have a park-and-ride bus ticket.

The taxi couldn’t drop us off at the Millenium Stadium because all the roads had been closed so we still had a 10-15 minute walk once we got into town. My sister is 5 months pregnant so as you can imagine, she wasn’t thrilled about this. She also wasn’t thrilled about the 6 flights of stairs we had to climb once we were inside to get to our seats. We could hear cheering and music pumping as we walked up to the stadium but from what we could gather from Twitter, we’d only missed one or two songs. THANK YOU ONE DIRECTION for coming on stage late!!!

Once we were inside, all was forgotten. It was an absolute blast. We were up in the rafters which is a new experience for me as I’m usually down the bottom getting crushed and sweaty with the screaming masses! To be honest, I was so grateful to have a seat after all that driving and it was much quieter up in the nosebleeds so you could hear more of the music. I’ll be honest, I only recognised one or two songs as I’m not a big Directioner but I did get up and gave it my all with my embarrassing older sister dancing for their finale track ‘Best Song Ever’.

One Direction CardiffOne Direction at Millenium Stadium CardiffHarry Styles in CardiffOne-DirectionOne-Direction1One Direction On The Road Again Tour Millenium Stadium CardiffOne Direction concert in Cardiff 2015

The concert ended at about 10.15pm and we knew we had to get a taxi back to the park-and-ride before the gates shut at midnight otherwise we’d really be stuck. We briefly stood in the queue for merchandise before realising that we’d better get a move on before the Manic Street Preachers kicked out as getting a taxi would be hard enough already. I did feel a little bit like Cinderella rushing to get back before midnight but not for long. It was absolute bedlam. Thankfully we managed to book a taxi and after a bit of confusion about which side of the hotel we were standing and a lot of shivering in the cold, we finally made it into our nice warm carriage at about 11.30pm. (Massive thanks to Dragon Taxis for being awesome). Our taxi driver was the best. He knew all the backroads to take and we didn’t get stuck in traffic once. He dropped us right outside the car and even helped us work out the best way to get to our hotel.

We were staying in Caerphilly and even driving around in the pitch black, I could tell it was going to be stunning when we woke up in the morning. I could see the outline of all the hills in the moonlight. The town centre is also home to an enormous, amazing looking castle WITH A MOAT. Absolutely gutted we didn’t have time to explore that but I’ll have to go back one day.

Our night at the Premier Inn was lovely and very comfortable and we woke nice and early for a bacon roll at McDonalds. We then drove home VIA READING due to a Sat-Nav mishap (my sister is not allowed to be in charge of directions any more) but we made it home with an hour to spare before she had to get to the airport so not a complete disaster.

I think it’s fair to say that I was very relieved to get home, put my comfy clothes on and slob on the sofa checking out the second hand designer goodies from rebelle* on my laptop. I think I’ll be sticking to concerts much closer to home in the future!

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I am not special

I can’t sing. I can’t draw. I can’t play any instruments. I’m not funny. I can’t speak any languages. I can barely cook. My baking is mediocre at best. I’m pretty regular looking. I’m not fat. I’m not thin. I don’t have long glossy hair or big bouncy curls. I don’t have bright blue eyes or never-ending eyelashes. I don’t have shiny white teeth or a big beaming smile. I still can’t apply mascara properly and will probably never master eyeliner. I’m no good at make-up. Or doing my hair. I don’t have a particular ‘style’. I don’t do yoga. I’m not raw vegan. I can’t write poetry. I’ve travelled, but not enough to call myself a ‘traveller’. I have no special interests or burning passions. I don’t have a career. I live in a normal house in a normal town and live a pretty normal life.

I am not special. And do you know what? That’s okay.

One of the things I think I’ve learnt in my twenties is that it’s okay not to be the best, to earn the most, to wear the most stylish clothes, to be the prettiest or the skinniest, to have the biggest house, to drive the fastest car. I don’t want any of those things. I’m happiest walking around in the fresh air, breathing in the scent of flowers and forests, watching the clouds, listening to the birds, feeling the sun on my face, smiling into the breeze and not giving a damn what anyone thinks.

But do you know what? There’s one person that definitely thinks I’m special. And that makes it all worthwhile.

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