2010 Year of Culture: August

Alright kids!  Well it’s been a while I must admit.  I’m having the best summer of my life, doing many things I will forget and many things I will regret, but it’s incredible.  Excuse me if this is short, every second has been action packed and will be until I must formerly commit to education again.  (Yes, hello, got into Southampton Uni by the way!)  So here goes …

Week 31 I hit up the New Forest for a week (see previous post).  Week 32 was another week, another field.  In the form of Soul Survivor, a giant Xtian Festival in the heart of Somerset.  I had an amazing week working in a Cafe there, met some amazing people and had some crazy experiences!  Week 33 was a cheeky slumber party at my Mum’s Business’ corporate flat, with free jacuzzi, sauna and gym, of course darling.  Living the life of luxe.  1 of the most stressful turned into amazing Results Day ever was Week 34, and V Festival 2010.  Just amazing.  We saw Feeder, Paloma Faith, Newton Faulkner, Kings of Leon, Paolo Nutini, The Kooks, Faithless, Imogen Heap and The Prodigy.  Just amazing.

So I’m having the best Summer of my life.  And don’t intend to stop now.  I’m hoping my blogging will resume to normality with the return of routine, we got a while yet though folks!  Hope you’re loving every second of your life just as I am!  Stay tuned for more fun and frolics little ones.

Believe it or not this is one of the tamer shots.  Soul Survivor 2010 baby!

The carnage we made of The Flat …

… But hello Sauna!

Stay tuned for an actual V Fest post including crazy photos.  Love!


Field Of Dreams?

Field of Dreams?  Quite possibly.  Camp, otherwise known as Mid Wessex Christian Camps located in the heart of the New Forest which I have now been attending for 10 years, and it’s as incredible as it was a decade ago.  After a long drive home yesterday and a stupidly long, and warm, sleep I am now ready to write about it.

Not having a set role at Camp this year (I normally lead a tent for children aged anywhere between 9 and 15) I was pretty apprehensive about my week away.  I didn’t want to be a ‘Floater’ and I was so scared I nearly didn’t go.  As soon as I got there though, all my fears were put to bed.  My title was a ‘Hostess’, I did everything from organising mini bus logistics, to cooking, to cleaning out toilets to being in the worship band.  It was incredible.  I was busy every moment of every day and I absolutely loved it.  It was so amazing being involved in the practical side after 10 years and appreciating Camp for what it is and how it runs, and I’m so proud I could be a part of that.

One of the best bits of my week was running a Forest Adventure/Challenge … all by myself J  Normally, the 60 campers and 30 odd leaders trek it to the heart of the forest to be greeted by an authoritative looking, muscle bound, manly early 20 year old guy.  This time, they had me.  Armed with my Army rucksack and walking boots, I hiked into a clearing surrounded my horses, cows and even dogs (those of you who know me well will know what a big feat this was for me) to set up my Challenge.  Walky Talky in toe complete with code names (This is Caffeine, Roger that, over and out), 8 groups of people successfully completed my challenge, and enjoyed it!  It was so nice abolishing the standard and breaking through with the unconventional.  Girls can do it too!

The Camp Fire is always a special one.  Ever since I can remember it has been full of tears, testimonies and love.  There is something just so intimate and personal about sitting in front of a blazing fire in the dark with people you know and love, and feeling comfortable enough to share how you are, how you’re feeling.  Complete with songs, shakes and sermons the Camp Fire has been and will always be my favourite evening of the week to be both respected and appreciated together.

Line Dancing was pretty incredible.  Quite possibly the most hardcore workout I’ve had all summer, dancing and jumping about like a lunatic!  So much fun.  As every evening did, it led to 15 odd leaders sitting around laughing until we couldn’t breathe.  I will miss those people the most.  I could go into every event that happened in so much detail but to be perfectly honest I don’t have the energy, and have well and truly exhausted my caffeine supply for 2010.  Camp is always wonderful, as was this year.  I feel so much happier in myself and in Christ, I have rediscovered my love for jeans and I have fallen realised the beauty of caravans.  I have reconnected with old friends and made some amazing new ones.  I’m loving summer and that Field of Dreams was no exception.

2010 Year Of Culture: July

So July!  Slightly more prompt on this one, thought I’d blog now cause I plan to be absent for a while.  As of tomorrow I’m pretty much camping solidly for 2 and a half weeks meaning a sincere lack of internet!

Week 27 was the second half of my week in grand old NYC.  And to be perfectly honest, there was enough culture there to last me the whole of next year too, so I think I can get away with that spanning two weeks ;)    Week 28 was so good.  Jet lag in toe, I popped up to London to see ‘Shrek: The Final Chapter’ at the Imax at Waterloo.  Incredible!  By far my favourite of all 4 films and the screen was just amazing.  I hadn’t been to the Imax for a while before that and I’d forgotten it’s sheer scale; flipping huge.  Definitely go if you get the chance!

Now Week 29 was action packed.  First, I headed up to London again to the Grace Kelly Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum.  So beautiful.  I came away wanting to be classy, sophisticated and actually turn into a lady.  All her clothes were just so elegant, hardly anything low cut, no legs on show, just so modest, so simple and so pure.  She said that when you have boring clothes as such (some were very plain and neutral), people pay more attention to you and who you are as a person.  It made me think.  While I can see the merit in her idea, I and many other people use fashion as a tool to express who we are as people, and not let our faces do that.  Maybe it’s her era.  Just got me thinking.  Either way, she was a beautiful lady.

The rest of the week was performing at Camberley Theatre for my final Street Vibes Dance Show (stay tuned for a blog on that one) and a trip to Manchester.  Whilst I quite possibly had 3 of the most intense, stressful and dramatic days of my life up North, I did really enjoy myself and manage to get quite a bit of culture in there!  The Lowry Art Gallery was probably my favourite, hand in hand with a Spencer Tunick Exhibition = Hello Nakedness!

Week 30 was yet another trip to London (It IS only 25 minutes away guys!), this time to Buckingham Palace!  I felt so regal.  I decided I wanted to go and see the State Rooms a few months ago, and slowly it turned into a whole family affair for my Dad’s birthday.  A lovely day out, and the Palace was just amazing!

So July has been a good one for culture!  I’m really enjoying my Summer and every day is bringing something new, amazing and exciting.  Stay tuned y’all :)

One of the 934 shots of NYC, me in front of Times Square.  One of the best holidays of my life :)


SO GOOD – you actually have to see this.

Grace Kelly – quite possibly the most beautiful woman to ever exist

Manchester!  And yet another appearance of the wonderful Rosie Hall :)

Buckingham Palace State Rooms – simply gorgeous.

Look How They Shine For You

These past few nights have been ridiculously hot.  So hot, I’ve taken to sleeping downstairs in our back sun room/conservatory sort of area.  However, come 4am I’m woken by the natural light streaming through the windows, meaning I have to trudge back upstairs to my bed, duvet and pillow in tow.  Not the most settling of night’s sleeps.  Nevertheless, lying on our cool leather sofa enables me to stare up through our roof windows and look at the sky.  The other night I noticed something I haven’t noticed for a long time, stars.

Beautiful.  The only time of the year I generally see and notice stars is when I’m camping or travelling.  Living in a huge town means hench light pollution, the awful orange haze above our homes … and no stars.  But last night I saw them.  It made me realise that in the grand scheme of things, I truly am insignificant.  I’ve been so wrapped up in myself, my life, my exams these past few weeks that I’ve forgotten everything true, real and important to me.  I’m so small, so small in relation to this incredible universe.  While I’ve been revising, people have been starving and dying.  I’m actually quite ashamed of myself.  During exams my Amnesty International magazines have been thrust under my bed without a second look, and I’ve haven’t Facebooked my Thailand girls in a long time.

I’d forgotten everything important to me.  I’d lost perspective on my life and the lives of those around me.  Who cares if I don’t get to Uni?  Obviously it would be hugely disappointing, but there are so many people that need me, would love to see me again.  I miss my babies in the Thailand Orphanage, I miss the girls from Kenya and the guy that tried to marry me (that’s another blog!).  I miss being that person who loves helping people and didn’t go out for 4 months to save enough money to fly to Chiang Rai, a city no ones ever heard of in North Thailand!  I miss all the people I’ve helped.  It might sound ridiculous but seeing those stars just made it all come flooding back to me.  Whilst focusing on exams is important and necessary, I’d forgotten the most important and necessary things in my life, my experiences, my dreams, my travels.

So welcome back Annabel!  I have just 3 days, 3 days left of this Exam business before getting back to the girl I truly know I am!  And it’s gonna be good.

This girl was one of the most beautiful little souls I’ve ever encountered, Thailand Orphanage 2008.

They have nothing, but are so happy.  A lesson to us all.  Thailand School, 2008.

This is my Uncle Simon with some of the kids in Thailand, 2008.  He’s such an incredible guy, now living and working out there.

These are the most incredible women I have ever had the honor of knowing.  Kenya 2009, these women prepared all our food for us from absolute scratch, giving us feasts every single day whilst they have nothing, constantly smiling, singing and dancing, radiating life and love.

Myself with my future Husband, Charles and Mother-In-Law!  Kenya 2009.

These beautiful boys sang us ‘Coast to Coast’.  Love, Kenya 2009.

From left, Annabel, Habil and Annabel (I just love that she had the same name as me!).  Two of the most incredible, loving, fun and inspiring girls I have met.  Love, Kenya 2009.

The Dream Summer

Everywhere you look, people seem to be having ‘The Dream Summer’, all year round.  You simply have to turn on your TV screens to be bombarded with American and British TV shows alike, each portraying bikini clad women, crazy festivals, lying in meadows, drinking to dizziness; each to their owns version of the dream summer.

What’s your dream summer?  Have you had a dream summer?  Or is it just hype?  It’s at this time of year the statuses begin to change.  ‘Bring on Summer 2010 Baby!’, ‘Malia 10!’ or ‘Road Trip 10’.  All sound amazing.  But are they?  People have such high expectations of summer, falling in love, running around in fields of gold, skinny dipping, being crazy – I wonder, does it all happen in just one dream summer? 

I’ve never had THE Dream Summer.  But I’ve had many extraordinary summer experiences.  Road tripping across Canada, surf school in Barbados, backpacking around Thailand, lots and lots of camping, not to mention my first all girls holiday to Zante.  All of these have been such amazing experiences, but within the whole period of ‘Summer’, things have gone wrong, they always do, thus destroying THE Dream Summer.

I’m still waiting for my dream summer, hey, perhaps I’ll be able to blog in a few months time and say I’ve safely had THE Dream Summer.  Who knows?  My 4 months away from education have a trip to New York on Independence Day, stupid amounts of camping, V Festival and a girly road trip lined up.  Plus a whole load of day trips and weekends away – I’m sure it’ll be pretty incredible.

Everyone has a different version, a different mindset of what their dream summer would be like, has been like.  I’ll let you know if I ever reach mine ;)


Summer 2009 – Besties at a Wedding

Zante 2009 Fishbowls Baby!

Thailand Beer!

Thailand Orphanage – 2008

Godalming Fields – Summer 2009

Writing a Book

I must have started about 6 or 7 books, as in, long haul novels in my time.  And finished how many?  Zero.  I love to write, I carry my notebook with me everywhere, jotting down ideas for characters, settings, narration.  Loser?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  I’ve written about promiscious doctors, lonely terrorists, Christian football players, murders … and not one of these stories has been completed.

I think I got the furthest with my promisicious doctor story.  Classic holiday chic-lit, which I completed about 30,000 words of.  I would rush home every day after school and sit with my laptop and my notepad, and refuse to stop until I’d written another chapter.  Next came the terrorist story, thinking my It Girl London doctor was a bit too shallow, that I needed some depth to my writing – cue middle east desert, a topic which I have no understanding or experience of.  I found I was beginning and stopping stories all the time, never finding myself, finding my true writing style in any of them.

So what next?  I am still determined to complete a book one day.  But perhaps I just have to accept and embrace the fact my writing style may not be suited to any one character for 300 pages.  Maybe I’m better with the fast paced, live, up to date articles I one day hope to publish.  This Summer I’m going to give it a go.  Three months of doing nothing but travelling, and discovering myself.  I have New York, epic amounts of camping and road trips planned plus plenty of ‘finding myself’.  I’m sure I’ll be able to whack out a novel along the way.  At least I’m sure as hell going to try!

My 18th Year

Admittedly ‘stolen’ from www.richterv.wordpress.com (although he insisted he didn’t mind), I thought I would summarise my 18th year – seeing as I officially become an adult  in 1 week from now :)

  • In April 2009 went on a life-changing trip to Kenya where I taught dance in a school for a week
  • Got a beautiful car, my baby Pedro
  • Sucessfully passed a Theory and Driving Test
  • Danced with ‘Diversity’
  • Through May and June 2009 had my AS Levels, and Passed
  • In July 2009 spent an incredible week camping in the New Forest
  • Spent a wonderful week in August 2009 in Zante with 3 of my best girlfriends
  • Had 5 lovely mini breaks to Nottingham, Manchester, Tonbridge Wells, Oxford and Canterbury to see friends and family 
  • Danced at the 02 Arena
  • Got 5 University Offers
  • Spent a week in Jersey, October 2009
  • Went into 2010 an hour before the British in Bruges, Belgium
  • Sucessfully began (and have so far maintained 2010: Year of Culture)
  • Had 2 consecutive 5 day weekends due to the gorgeous snowfall in January 2010
  • Had a Murder Mystery party
  • Spent an amazing week in Glasgow, February 2010
  • Completed a sucessful ‘Annabel’s Fashion Week’
  • Had 2 of the best days of my life at a Politics Conference; Trinity College, Oxford University
  • Went to Wembley Stadium to see Carlisle United play Southampton Saints
  • Spent an idyllic week in the Lake District

So has been an amazing, incredible, eventful year – all these activites combined with college, exams and the general stresses of day to day life.  Bring on the 19th!