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Photography

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE looking at photographs. I love that you can capture so much in one shot. I asked Caitlin if I could use some of her photographs for a blog because I wanted to share with you her talent. Here are some examples showing the variety of her work. Next to all the photos are links to the products or places, so, when you fall in love with them, like I know you will, you can find out more.

Promotional Photography

(e.g holiday homes, glamping sites, campervans, restaurants)

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St David’s Holiday Cottages

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Quirky Campers 

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Canvas & Campfires

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The Daffodil

Product Photography

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Pothies – Handmade Slippers

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Chuckling Goat

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Celteg by Cetlic Country Wines

Artists & Creatives

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Travel Photography

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This particular shot was taken in The Atacama Desert, Chile

Family Photoshoots

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Beach, woodland, at home, in the park, your favourite walk or place, etc.

I hope you enjoyed looking through this as much as I did making it.

If you’d like to get in touch with Caitlin or see more of her work you can visit: www.caitlintyler.com

You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Louise x

All Images Copyright Caitlin Tyler Photography

Ivy

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I came across Ivy’s story when her mother Kim was looking for donations for her auction page. I donated a copy of Mindful Millie & Sad Simon, joined the group and have been following her story since.

Ivy is a very brave little girl with the currently incurable disease Cystic Fibrosis. You can follow her story here.  Kim is trying to raise funds for a physio vest for Ivy and to help other children with CF.

Kim has recently appeared on BBC news to talk about funding for the drug Orkambi. You can watch the interview here.

Ivy’s fundraising auction group has so many beautiful handcrafted items to bid on; go and take a look! A lot of it is personalised too. Some examples of past items include personalised drawings of pets or family, jewellery, wax melts, candle holders, hair bows, children’s clothes, teddies, blankets, home decor, Christmas decorations, books and the list goes on. Kim, Ivy’s mum is always looking for donations so contact her on the page if you would like to help.

 

 

Abby’s “CliffsNotes” Version of Mindfulness

Thank you, Louise, for featuring me on your blog! I am Abby and on most days I manage a blog over at https://mylifelines.co. Other days, I struggle to merely manage myself!😆

In the past year, I have completely turned my health and happiness around. Before, I was in a constant state of rumination. Always thinking about my past mistakes, worrying about my future, and not enjoying the now. I would get involved in too many things, never exceeding at anything. I would fall for the wrong guys and then tell myself I wasn’t good enough when they decided to end it. I would eat until I was sick and not work out because I was “too fat and out of shape.” I was depressed and I didn’t think I would ever get past it.

Fast forward to today, and I have somehow learned (and 100% believe) that everything I do in life needs to be for the health and benefit of myself. I always worry that this sounds selfish, but this is my truth. Honestly, it should be for all of us. There are many things I still do for people, of course, but I’ve learned that those things need not affect me negatively. Bettering oneself is a long process, and while I feel as though I’ve learned the easier lessons, I have a long way to go. True mindfulness is one of those more difficult lessons.

There are numerous definitions of mindfulness. It’s been interpreted, learned, and shared by many people in millions of ways in all different areas of the world. It is simple to understand, but insanely difficult to master. Here are two definitions that I like the best:

“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” https://www.mindful.org/

“Mindfulness is about observation without criticism; being compassionate with yourself.” http://franticworld.com/what-is-mindfulness/

The “Abby’s CliffsNotes Version of Mindfulness” is this: focus on you.

We can use and learn mindfulness —

  1. To understand what you are feeling in the moment.
  2. To get away from the thoughts of yesterday. And the worry of the future.
  3. To listen to your thoughts and emotions without any judgment, but to also learn from them and move past them.

I have read many articles, watched a number of TedTalks, and I still would say I only understand about 25% of it. I am on an exciting learning path to fully grasp it.

My most recent TEDx talk was by Barry Margerum — “Sustaining Happiness Through Mindful Living.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYr7qJq7bJk

He stressed the need to focus on the present without judgment or concern. But instead with an open, accepting, and learning mindset. He states that, more often than not, our focus on the past is clouded in guilt, regret, grievances, and sadness – while our focus on the future is filled with anxiety, tension, worry, and fear. Of course, it’s all easier said than done, but he did leave off with a useful exercise. It’s one that I have been trying to incorporate in my everyday life. You should try it, too!

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First, you focus on your breathing. What helps me, something that many experts suggest is to focus on a part of your body that is moving with your breath. I focus on the rhythm of my chest with my breathing.

Then, when your mind wanders, instead of getting mad or annoyed (because that just makes me think even more), take a moment to realize where your mind wandered to.

Realize the wandering. Write the thought down if you think that will help. You can get back to it at another time. Then, go back to focusing on your breathing.

This is beyond challenging for me. I’ll start breathing and my mind is literally saying “don’t think about anything” — “well… now you are thinking! Don’t think! That is still thinking!!”

~OR~

You know when you were a kid in the car and really had to pee, so your evil siblings would say things like, “don’t think about waterfalls, or drinking water, or the sound of a faucet!”? Now my brain has taken over, saying, “I know you aren’t supposed to be thinking about anything… So here are all the things you forgot to keep worrying about.”

This isn’t supposed to be straightforward, but the more I do it, the better I will get at controlling my mind and my in-the-moment happiness!

Do you practice mindfulness? What types of exercises do you do?

You can catch more of my posts at https://mylifelines.co ! 😊

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An a-y of Welsh

ARWEN – My favourite Welsh word & my daughter’s name, it means “fair maiden”

BUWCH GOCH GOTA – ladybird – it translates as “little red cow”!

CLECS – telling tales! Children are often said to be carrying tales when spreading fibs – “cario clecs” in Welsh slang

CHYRLIGWGAN – Merry go round

DANT Y LLEW – Dandylion, translates as “a lion’s tooth”. The mane is obvious but I cant work out which part is supposed to be the tooth!

DDRAIG — Dragon! This is very important to Wales and is even on the flag! You can read more about the legend here. (A mutation (Welsh: Treiglad) of Draig – I’ve been learning Welsh for 11 years and I STILL can’t get my head around mutations… you can read more here.)

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EIRIN GWLANOG – Peach, translates as “Woolly plum”

FEDDW – drunk

FFLAM – Flame

NGHAERDYDD – or Caerdydd which you may know as Cardiff, the Welsh capital. Now this lovely word is a nasal mutation… yes, there are 4 different kinds!

GWAS Y NEIDR – Dragonfly, translates as “the snake’s servant”

HOFFI – Like. One of the words from the most popular Welsh phrase “Rydw i yn hoffi coffi” – thank you Gavin & Stacey!

IGAM OGAM – walking in an “all over the place” fashion

JAC CODI BAW – JCB. Translates as “Jack lifts dirt”

LING DI LONG – walking carefree, in no rush at all

LLANFAIRPWLLGWYNGYLLGOGERYCHWYRNDROBWLLLLANTYSILIOGOGOGOCH – What a mouthful, people visit this tiny village in Wales just to stand by the sign! There isn’t much there besides a pub and a gift shop. Be warned if you catch the train there, it will be a long wait to ride back. My husband can attest to this!

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MOCHYN DDAER – Badger. Translates as “Ground pig”

NOFIO – I love nofio… can you guess what it is? Swimming!

OLAF – This might remind you of a certain fictional film character, but in Welsh it means last!

POPTY PING – Yes this is in fact a Welsh word for microwave – brilliant!

PHOENI – Worry. This is one I’ve heard so many times… “paid â phoeni!” or “Don’t worry!”. This one is an aspirate mutation, but as you’ve probably grasped by now I don’t have a clue whats going on so you can have a look here.

RHEWGELL – Freezer. Translates as “Ice cell” – sinister…

SBONCEN – Squash, as in the game!

TWPSIN – Welsh slang for stupid

THAD – Father, when used as an aspirate mutation – Ei thad hi – Her father

UN AR DDEG – eleven, or more literally “one on ten”

WIWER – Squirrel

YCHAFI – Disgusting! usually pronounced in a drawn out fashion – “YYYCH-AAA-FIII”.

I hope you love Welsh as much as I do!

Louise x

My dreams

One of the most common questions I’m asked is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” something I have been excited and insecure about my whole life.

During primary school all I wanted to be was a teacher, I would go to school, come home and play at being a teacher. I had a little whiteboard and I used to set my teddies work to do;

When I went to high school the dream lived on and I would visit my primary school on inset days to work with the teachers.

By sixth form, I don’t really know what it was – I think insecurity – I didn’t want to teach anymore. The whole thing seemed daunting – being observed teaching and being judged totally put me off.

I still went to university even though I really didn’t want to – I was terrified. I applied for nursing and midwifery but got rejected straight away, so I used my last slot to apply for Education and Early Childhood Studies which I got accepted onto straight away.

University was amazing at the beginning, from somewhere I found some confidence and I had so much fun living in halls with my flatmates. But then the dark cloud that is depression got too much and I ended up isolating myself again. From then on university got very hard, anxiety attacks made attending lectures very difficult and having to do placements and presentations made my anxiety rocket leading me to very dark places.

I did it, I got through and managed somehow to get a 2:1. So what now? Did I want to teach? Secretly it was still a dream but there was no way my mental health could cope with the pressures of a PGCE and the confidence to go out on placement was totally lacking.

Again and again I trawled through the jobs website, writing applications to work in schools and chickening out at the last minute. I just couldn’t go through with it.

I then decided I would do a PGCE PCET which is to teach in post compulsory education such as college etc. I got onto the course, all I needed to do was find a placement. But again, the anxiety got the better of me.

The next academic year I applied to be a midwife again – I decided that was what I wanted to do and I wouldn’t let my anxiety stop me – but again I was rejected straight away. So – it was obviously not meant to be. Looking back I think it was a good thing as I don’t know how I would have coped given my own fertility problems.

So… then I decided to apply for a degree in teaching Welsh at Secondary level. I got my place and was even offered to start in year 2, all I needed to do was get a B in GCSE maths. But of course by the time the exams were coming around my anxiety had peaked and I couldn’t take the exam.

By now, I felt like an absolute failure. I’d tried so many avenues and failed at them all; why was I applying for these things when I couldn’t even go shopping on my own?! I was wasting everybody’s time.

In late 2016 after a very very low time, I applied to volunteer at Samye Foundation Wales – a centre for Mindfulness and Wellbeing. When I got offered an interview I thought, I can do this – they will be understanding. And they were. They understood how nervous I was and did everything they could to make me feel comfortable and confident and a few months later I was doing things I never thought I could. Answering the phone, interviewing people, going on errands alone and being generally happy and confident.

Everyone at the centre gave me such encouragement with publishing my book Mindful Millie and I will never forget their support.

When I look back at all of my “failures” I realise they are not failures at all, but the journey I needed to take to get to where I am.

Had I chosen any of those routes I would never have met the wonderful people at Samye and I would never have published Mindful Millie. Had I not gone to university I wouldn’t have met some of the most wonderful people and gained so much insight into the early years and I would not have been inspired to write a book for young children.

Who knows what I’ll be doing in a few years? But that doesn’t matter now. Lets not focus on the past or the future but the present. Right now I’m growing a baby and that’s my job (I would also love to get Sad Simon published – and I promise I will as soon as I can!)

Love to you all,

Louise

 

 

 

 

A long awaited post

It has been absolute mayhem the last couple of weeks. I’ve started college, trying to keep up with Mindful Millie events and also volunteering as much as possible for the Open day at Samye Foundation Wales.

I’m absolutely loving college. Well, the theory, I love the work and I love the vocational side and doing the facials. However, I have slipped back into some unhealthy habits, but luckily I’ve noticed and am being mindful not to carry them on. Paranoid thoughts came back with venom, the first week I was ok, but the second week I felt really isolated because the paranoia took over. The “nobody likes me”, “I don’t fit in”, “they are all laughing at me” thoughts rose up and I was left feeling very anxious. One day I even went and sat in my car during the break because I couldn’t face being alone in college. I thought I was over this but I think it just reminded me so much of school the old ways of thinking came back.

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Mindful Millie is going fabulously, although I wish I had more time to spend on social media and my blog as I do feel I’m neglecting you. Once the open day is over later today I’m hoping I will have more time. I spent Friday afternoon at a primary school reading Mindful Millie with the children and it was absolutely fantastic. The children all joined in and we discussed mindfulness and how they can be mindful in the outdoors. I’m going back next friday, we enjoyed it so much we only got on to the second page of the book before the bell rang! They shared a lovely photo you can see here.

I’ve also put Mindful Millie on eBay now and I’m really excited because when you buy a copy from them 10% goes to Young Minds.. click here to have a look.

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Next weekend my friend (The Stripey Pebble) and I are going to Scolton Manor for a Autumn craft fair, I will be selling my books and she will be selling some lovely art. I’m really looking forward to it. It is just so exciting to spread the word about mindfulness and I want as many people to know as possible.

Today is the big day, the day we have been planning for months! The day we open the Tibetan Tea Room at Kagyu Samye Dzong Cardiff (The charity I also volunteer for along with Samye Foundation Wales). It is a very exciting time but my gosh have we worked hard, most nights this week we’ve been working into the darkness getting everything finished. I will be sharing some photos later of the open day and I cannot wait to show you how beautiful the building is. The art and the colours are just incredible.

So, off I go to catch my bus to work because we can’t use the car. My first bus journey in a very long time due to my phobia of them… and its an hour and a half journey so WISH ME LUCK!

Love to you all & remember to look after yourself

Louise

First day nerves

The first day at a new school, college, job or club can be really daunting. On my first day I used these 8 mindfulness techniques and it was a breeze.

first day nerves..pngEveryone gets them, even the most confident people. Going in to a building full of strangers and unknown rooms can be terrifying.

But, it doesn’t need to be. When I began primary school I can remember crying my eyes out, hiding behind my mums legs holding on for dear life. I can still remember the sick feeling and the panic as she left. It got better as I got used to school but when it came to moving to high school the anxiety set in.

I can remember sitting on the grass in the playground feeling really upset about going to high school; I ruminated about it for months before. Looking back at how I felt I was depressed but obviously at that age I had no idea. When it came to leaving school and going to big school it was very traumatic. Every morning I could cry, I felt so unwell. I would tell the teachers and my parents I felt sick, weak and dizzy and that I had awful pain in my stomach but no one believed me because they thought I was trying to get out of school.

It took a couple of years for a doctor to diagnose me with IBS – all of the stress and anxiety was manifesting itself in sickness and pain. Going in to year 8 and 9 I was much better but during my GCSEs I began to feel unwell again and going to school was a struggle.

I got through the first year of sixth form in the same school although my grades were deeply affected, the second year was that bad that I ended up teaching myself from home.

Understandably I did not want to go to university and had been dreading it for years but my parents were insistent I go, I think they were hoping it would make me confident. At the time I resented them for making me go, it felt cruel. And although university was extremely difficult it’s something I am so proud of myself for getting through and in hindsight I think my parents were right in making me go.

By the third year of university my attendance was very low due to the abundance of panic attacks, especially in seminars. I thought, there is no way I can do a PGCE or a masters when I can’t even sit in a room with other people.

2 years after graduating, and a year after picking up my first book on mindfulness I walked into college, slight butterflies in my tummy but no adrenaline, no sense of panic. I went and sat down, started a conversation with strangers and sat in a classroom with 60 other students for a whole day.

How did I do it?

10 tips for your first day

Moral of the story, please don’t give up because you never know what you might accomplish in the future. I never thought I would be able to walk in to a building without having a panic attack, although I’m not cured, I’m doing pretty well!

Stay mindful,

Louise x

The story behind Mindful Millie

Since a child I have suffered from anxiety and depression, it’s been quite severe at times and constant over the years – like a toxic friend that never leaves your side.

the story behind mindful millieIt was when I was 22, I’d finished university where I studied Education and Early Childhood studies, teaching wasn’t an option due to my anxiety. We had already been trying for a baby for a year with no luck. I used this as an excuse to cover why I couldn’t get a job – the real reason being I could barely leave the house never mind on my own. We told everyone I was renovating the house and so I had no time for a job.

After a couple of years trying for a baby, it really began to sink in that without a job and without a baby I had no purpose and I was just a burden. I spiralled. What didn’t help was everyone’s comments about how the reason I couldn’t conceive was because I needed to “relax” – the guilt just piled up and I felt more and more worthless.

I’ve always had health anxiety and been a bit of a hypochondriac, the moment someone felt ill I felt ill too. I was just going to bed when I had an extreme pain in my side and I was convinced that it was a ectopic pregnancy, I felt sick, I had a temperature and I  was shaking violently, I was sweating and my heart was going so fast. These were all symptoms of my anxiety attack. The worst part of health anxiety is that you end up giving yourself all the symptoms which just confirms to you that you are really unwell.

This panic attack lasted over a week and then I finally went to the doctors. I was put on an anti-depressant and every day I got a tiny bit better. I found a book on mindfulness and that is where my journey began.

By taking everything one second at a time and getting out of the cycle of worrying about the future and being obsessed with the past, everything became so much easier to cope with.

After a few months I decided I was stronger and I needed to find myself a purpose so I looked on the volunteering website and found a post for a receptionist at Samye Foundation Wales a centre for mindfulness and well being and I couldn’t really believe it, I thought: what a perfect place to try and build some confidence – I felt like they would be supportive and understanding.

It’s now 9 months later and I couldn’t have made a better choice. My friends can’t believe the change in me. I met my best friend from university on Friday and as she moved away we rarely see each other. She said, “I can’t believe you came into Cardiff on your own, you walked in to meet me and when we couldn’t find each other it didn’t faze you – before that would have been a meltdown; we’re sat in a restaurant surrounded by people and you are completely calm!”.

I wrote Mindful Millie at the start of this year. I learnt in university about the importance of early intervention and I asked myself – if id have learnt mindfulness as a child would I have been in the state I was? We really need to get in there early and help children learn skills so that they can build a positive mental health as they grow.

So, after commissioning a lovely artist – Rhiannon Thomas, we created a beautiful character called Millie, she is an elephant that uses mindfulness and teaches children how to use it too. Saying that, the book has been quite a hit with adults too!

One review I had was: “Mindful Millie is an amazing book that makes mindfulness easily accessible to people of all ages, regardless of any prior knowledge (or lack of!) about the technique.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book launch

The big day had finally come, the release of my first book Mindful Millie!

*Disclosure: some posts on my site contain affiliate links, this just means that if you go through to make a purchase from my link, without any extra cost to you, I will earn commission.

the book launch

I can’t really believe how well Saturday went – it went amazingly. The decorations went up without a problem, I had beautiful prints of the photos Caitlin took at the photo-shoot up on the wall (see pics here), my friend decorated the cakes for me while I prepared the rooms.

So many people turned up, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people that were there to support this venture. The lovely illustrator Rhiannon came along with her family and it was so nice to see them there, I met the gorgeous little Harry Pugford and his mum who’s writing a very exciting book too (which I cannot wait to read).

I was really nervous about the reading because I’ve never been a fan of attention or public speaking, I nearly left university because of the anxiety around presentations leaving me sleepless and without appetite for weeks before. Luckily I managed to keep the anxiety until the day of the launch by staying mindful but when it came to the moment I have to say I found it difficult. But, I DID IT! and as soon as I got in to reading the book – I was truly in the moment and the anxiety vanished.

I was so lucky to have such lovely children to read to, it was so amazing to read Mindful Millie and see the children listening and joining in with the story. Afterwards family members and friends commented that they couldn’t believe how confident I was and how much I had changed since the beginning of my Mindfulness journey.

I cannot thank Samye Foundation Wales enough for letting me use their beautiful building – it was the perfect atmosphere for my book launch. The support that everyone at Samye has shown me, especially Lorraine is incredible and I have learnt so much from them about compassion and the importance of mindfulness.

You can get your copy of Mindful Millie here

or your copy of Mili Meddwl here

Louise x

Lourdes 2017 – a transformation

Last time I went to Lourdes I really struggled with my anxiety and decided I wouldn’t go back. But being the stubborn person that I am, I refused to let my anxiety rule my future and decided that with the help of mindfulness I would be able to go this year.

Reasons to hike on your birthdaySunday

On Sunday I woke up to open birthday presents & make sure everything was packed. When I awoke I was really shocked not to be feeling really nervous – as soon as that thought popped into my head I noticed it – and reminded myself that there was no need to be nervous and that I would take everything one moment at a time. I opened every card and present with attention to every detail, every texture, every word, every smell and it is incredible the difference being all there makes to your gratitude and enjoyment of receiving gifts. It was as if every word meant more, I noticed all the little things and the thoughts behind them.

When it came to lunchtime I made my way to the airport and sat inside waiting for the coach to arrive with the others. I chose to get a lift there rather than go on the coach to try and minimise the travelling as I get claustrophobic. I sat on the bench and I started to feel feelings of anxiety so I closed my eyes and took deep breaths. I used a grounding technique to calm myself down and I focused on my breathing.

Once I was checked in I helped one of the assisted pilgrims to go and get something to eat and then helped her through security. Usually, the worst part of flying for me is going through security. I’ve always had this huge fear that someone has planted something on me and I will end up in prison, totally unrealistic although in my mind totally plausible. This time though, I did not have one feeling of anxiety. I went through security, smiled and I felt on top of the world.

Monday

In the morning we worked the early shift and got the assisted pilgrims up and ready for breakfast and the day ahead, we cleaned their rooms in the hospital and then made our way down to the Grotto for the opening Mass. It was pouring it down and I wish I had packed my umbrella. I could have been miserable but I decided to me mindful and enjoy the rain, taking each drop as the first.

In the afternoon we had a procession and it began to wear us down that we had been in the same wet clothes since 6am; it was then that things began to unravel for me because when we asked if we could just go and change clothes we were told we had to stay. Something just clicked in my brain; you are trapped – you can’t leave. Although we were in a huge church – the underground basilica it was like the walls were getting tighter and I started to panic. Although I knew I could just walk out of the door, although I knew I was a 23 year old adult who had the right to leave, the fear just consumed me, I began to shake, the cold spread through me and I felt sick.

I panicked – I thought “this is it – I knew I shouldn’t have come”.

Luckily, after we finally got to go back and change I managed to return myself to mindfulness and I didn’t dwell on how I had felt.

Tuesday

On Tuesday we took the assisted pilgrims down to the domain and did the stations of the cross and walked through the grotto. Walking through the grotto is one of my favourite parts because it is so mindful – people walk slowly through, feeling the smoothness of the cave walls and feeling the water run down. The sound of the water is beautiful. I love seeing the flowers that are left and it just feels like such a special place full of love and compassion.

Wednesday

On Wednesday we did the torchlight procession; it was not the best I’ve ever been to as it decided to rain! But it was still wonderful. I had the honour of pushing my friends grandmother in a wheelchair whilst a friend pushed her grandfather next to me. It was so wonderful, the whole way around their candles kept going out and so they spent half of the time trying to re-light each others candles – it was so wonderful how they laughed together and it was quite the challenge trying to push their wheelchairs at the same rate so that they didn’t end up setting fire to one another!

Thursday

On Thursday we had international mass and group photographs. In the morning we got a chance to lie in (until past 7am!) so we got crepes together – but of course being the one who can’t eat gluten I decided to take some time out and I sat on a bench by the river listening to my meditation CD – I did a whole 17 minutes of meditation and I felt so proud – in the middle of all the hustle and bustle I managed to stay totally mindful for 17 minutes – this may not seem like a big deal but it really is for me!

Thursday evening was so emotional. We went down to the Grotto to light our candle – something we do every year. The candle had all of our names on. This is the time that everyone has a cry and lets out all of the emotions they’ve been holding in. Lighting a candle you pray for those who need it, for family, for those you’ve lost and it brings such strong feelings and emotions. One thing that strikes me every single time I go is how every single one of the youth supports the others, nobody is left out, everyone comforts everyone, like one big family – but a family of choice, where we all choose to love each other.

After lighting the candle, Lucy and I walked back to the hotel and on the way circled the statue of Mary three times. It is believed that doing so whilst saying the Hail Mary means that you will return to Lourdes.

Friday

Friday was a sad day -the last day! We cleaned the hospital, helped the assisted pilgrims to pack and had the closing mass. The flight was due to leave at 7pm, but got delayed until 3am – it turns out Mary wasn’t ready for us to leave!

Although I am still not recovered from the tiredness – I wouldn’t have changed getting to spend an extra 8 hours with my friends.

Until next year,

Louise x