Monday, 31 December 2018

The last day

Today is this last of the year and tomorrow 2019 starts and oh, what will it hold? I usually don't even think about such things and certainly don't get giddy or make resolutions, go out on the town and celebrate, but this year I am intrigued to say the least.

What is going to happen to us here in the UK and dare I mention, here in Northern Ireland? It's 88 days until Brexit (if it even goes ahead, my brain is so confuddled!) and I admit, I am scared. It's normal for me to be basically clueless about the next day never mind the next year, but to think that our Government hasn't got it together is really pushing it.

Some things I do know however and I cling to them with hope in my heart, even those that make me uneasy such as this years birthday, haha.

* Andrew and I will celebrate 21 years together in January
* We will be working hard on our hiking as we have the Ulster Way to finish this coming year
* We have the Cumbria Way lined up for later in the spring
* There shall be a new commitment made to the allotment!
* I'll do more photography experiments (and failures) to help me grow and express myself
* We will both be turning 40! In the Summer 😱

* And this, this quote shall ring in my ears and I shall try to believe it with all the heart.

This is my wish for you dear reader. May this coming year see you experience much, but ultimately, when you take a moment to stop and think, may you be pleasantly surprised to discover that you are happy. Happier than you have been this year, content and able to bat away worries and problems easily.
I wish you all you could wish for yourself.


Thank you for joining me here on 'A Stubborn Optimist' over the past 6 months. I truly appreciate every read, very like, every comment. You make me feel stronger in myself - you're brilliant x 

Thursday, 27 December 2018

NEW Moleskine Garden Journal Winner!

Hope you all are having a lovely relaxed holiday period doing whatever it is you want and maybe eating some naughty treats and enjoying your newest gifts. The holiday is going well for us in our household and I have felt calmer than I have in years 😌
I am about to make someone happy! A belated Christmas present is coming someone's way as I simply can not get in touch with our original winner of the fabulous Moleskine Garden Journal. I feel it's only fair that after a week of trying (in vain) to contact Ms Upton I have made the executive decision to re-pick my special person.

And so just a quick flash of the prize...

 It is now bundled up in bubble wrap with a congratulations card all ready in it's own envelope and it's just sitting here looking at me, desperate to be posted. So without further ado....
*drum roll*
Our NEW WINNER is.......

PLEASE, get in touch with me as soon as you can and claim your prize by emailing me at

I will try to get your attention in social media and such as well.

Congratulations and thank you for playing!!
Hugs and love

Saturday, 22 December 2018

My books of the year

I have been using Goodreads for quite a few years now, to help me curate what books (including the exact editions) I have read every year. Some years are more prolific than overs and this year I am sad but yet not annoyed that I managed 12 complete books and two thirds of Anna Karenina.

I still can't quite believe we are so close to the end of 2018, but Goodreads sent me my yearly list in a nice photo collage and I thought I would share it with you.

I do love books but double vision takes it's toll when it comes to reading and I never make a huge dent in my 'to read' collection. I would seriously LOVE to know of your favourites and maybe I can read them too. Please leave the title in the comments, please xxx

My favourites from the year are:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
* Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
* Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman (really cheap at the moment - click the link!)
* Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

I'm also madly in love with the Penguin English Library series from which Great Expectations and Mrs Dalloway are from. I have a lovely collection gathering up on my shelves now.

So over to you...favourites, anyone?
Maybe you asked for some books for Christmas - what are they?

Love and hugs

Friday, 21 December 2018

The Winter Solstice has arrived

It's here! The shortest, darkest day. We just have to push through this and on the other side the days will be getting longer. My thoughts turn to Spring, new life, sun on my face, a fresh start (though heaven for-fend, I shall not be thinking of New Year resolutions!). No. In fact my thoughts turn to pre-Spring and the anticipation of Spring, the days getting ever so warmer, brighter and heralding the joy of bird song, seeds arriving in the post, snowdrops and the trees just showing their tight green buds. This is the start....

A Poem for the Winter Solstice 

I go into the world and can't know if there is enough time.
To both begin and end.
To see everything I wish to.
On the shortest day I walk further inside than out.
I go in the knowledge that the light will fade to a still point and be gone.
That I will walk back, unseen even by myself.
Fumbling for the keys to home.
It is unnerving to outlive summer.
It is true that here I stand exposed by the bare limbs of my heart.
But I say I can be comfortable in what newness will appear.
Because to be tilted away is also to be tilted toward.
And I mean it.
There is no other bargain to be made with the dark.
I'm at the turning point.
I'm moving back to life.

by Ruth Allen 
(@whitepeak_ruth on Instagram)

It says it all. Have a Happy Winter Solstice, may you soon revel in the light (even if it's just little pockets, like I hope for).

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Moleskine Garden Journal Winner!

Eekk! It's getting very exciting with a winner being announced today, tomorrow being the Winter Solstice, then it's the weekend and then...Christmas hurrah That means we all, have time to spend however we want. I vote for pj days, haha.

But you here for the winner aren't you? Let's remind ourselves what was up for grabs

Well the Allotment flat cap has been used yet again, Andrew picked with his eyes closed super tight and....

Congratulations and may it bring you great joy to use!

This shall be winging it's way to you as soon as possible, but I need your address first so drop me an email at ...

Thank you to all who played, sorry everyone couldn't win.

If you would still like one, you can get them here - you do deserve one after all 😉

Many festive hugs
Carrie x

Friday, 14 December 2018

Daily photo challenge round up (week 27)

Rounding up my photos from the weekly as though they were cheeky sheep and putting here in the one place. As usual the prompts come from the Fat Mum Slim blog and I am glad to be joined by so many talented and interesting people from around the world on Instagram. I hope you like one or two....

Day 8 - dinner time
The Christmas Market is in town and people are going mad for fresh cooked sausages! 
Day 9 - i bought this....
Stag years ago but its still one of my favourite decorations.
Day 10 - joy...
Is a lovely, fresh, citrus-y pint (a half for the lady) beside a roaring open fire on the most dreich of days.
Day 11 - starts with 's'
A skull my husband found whilst out in the wilds.
Day 12 - lights
Joy's Entry brightened up and looking inviting by the many fairy lights deployed on a cold winter's night.
Day 13 - decoration
This is one of my favourite decorations of Santa.
Day 14 - I made this...
The felt decorations on our little tree were all made by me 😊.

* Please don't forgot yesterday's post on the Moleskine Garden Journal Giveaway, there are only a few players at the moment so your chances of winning are still high!

Hugs and I wish you a merry weekend, whatever you'll be up to.
Carrie x

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Moleskine Gardening Journal Giveaway!

Yes dear friends, I am doing a Christmas giveaway - woo hoo! Sure why the heck not? Don't you deserve a special gift? I can tell you have been good all year 😁

Open to all in the UK, I am giving away my one and only Moleskine Gardening Journal, which I was kindly sent to review earlier this year click here please!

After my glowing review (oh how I do really love a Moleskine) I had gifted it to Andrew and at the time he was really rather excited by it. He decided that he would keep it until around Christmas and start using it then for planning the 2019 year on the plot; keeping plot layouts, seed orders, wants and needs etc altogether in one handy place.

Alas months passed and Andrew bought himself a Moleskine notebook (irony!) in Belfast one day whilst on his lunch break so he could write down all the ideas he was having. He had totally forgotten about the journal stashed on the shelf under the coffee table! Arggh. Really I blame myself, I should keep the place more tidy and especially pick up after him more effectively, hahaa

So, here we are all jounral -ed up (+ I have this blog as my planner and memory keeper) and this poor Gardening Journal is left feeling unwanted. Could you give it a happy home? Could you fill it with plans, lists, thoughts and hopes?

image from the earlier review
If so leave your name in the comments below and your name will go in the allotment flat cap....

N.B. Only the plastic wrap and paper collar are missing. The journal has only been flicked through for the purpose of doing the review and taking photos. It's basically brand new and definitely unmarked in any way.

WINNER will be announced next week - Thursday 20th 2018
Hugs and good luck.

P.S. This is a link to the above Moleskine Garden Journal in case you just need to have it NOW 

Monday, 10 December 2018

My Festive Belfast

Well you can't expect a girl to miss out on the fun of the festive season and devote herself only to the cold and damp allotment or an arduous hike in the wilderness! No this girl must be free to explore the urban sights and scenes too 😁. Just because I'm not a fan of Christmas with its societal pressures, need to spend money to show love and the pretence that your mental illnesses have gone for the holidays, doesn't mean I don't love me a sparkly, twinkly decorated place, like the next person....

So yesterday was a clear and chilly day which we grabbed by both hands and went to Belfast with our cameras. I'm really loving street photography, I wouldn't say it's easy or I'm an good but here are some of my photos. Make a wee warm drink, grab a blankie and let the warm and fuzzy feels start...

My favourite hotel entrance ever - love that mural and those doors!
Bangor Rugby Club singing carols for charity - topless!

the first gorgeous wee dog I saw with her owner
Favourite shop window - love the retro paper chains
Into the Continental Market with it's many stalls and tall people 
Little detail on the stall front at a wood carvers
The Helter Skelter seemed loved by young and old
Second wee dog of the afternoon - cute
Roasting marshmallows on an open fire - a happy memory for the future
Being a stall holder can make you a little 'humbug' I know I ran one for years
Never a truer word was written 😊 🐕
Last stunning dog of the day, chillin' with its owner
Massive German sausages were the go to food for most - they're huge!
The Helter Skelter reflected in a bar window with the words 'Nollaig Shona' (Happy Christmas in Irish)

There we go for now. We had a great time and though Andrew works close to the City Hall where the Continental Market is held, we both want to go up again one night soon and take more cherry twinkly photos and maybe meet some more dogs.

Love and hugs

Friday, 7 December 2018

Daily photo challenge round up (week 26 )

Maybe you are full of the joy of the Season and are bursting with cheer and Christmas giddiness. I imagine some of you are like the character 'Elf' so well played by Will Ferrell - ready to erupt into a Christmas tune at anytime.

I'm not like that and particularly this week, apart from some fun photography moments, I will share in the week to come. The rest of the time - bah humbug...though I couldn't be more willing for this to change!

And thus we come to the weekly photo round up; the first week in December

Day 1 
'From where I stand....'
Waiting to cross the road, lots of legs and only one face, upside down, in a puddle 😊

Day 2
'A good habit...'
Going on regular coffee dates with my husband

Day 3 
What a treat to see fuchsia in flower in December (at Glenarm Castle Gardens Cafe)

'Treat' (b)
A weekday out playing on the beach with my Husband and dog is definitely a treat (Ballygalley Beach)

Day 4
The Mad Hatter's tea party, talking about Time.

Day 5
When one nap is over it's time to start a new one... (Toby logic)
Day 6
The very local mail box and my letters ready to post

Day 7
Looking back to the glorious day we finished the Hadrian's Wall Path and finally collapsed in the hotel bar with bubbles under this fabulous bamboo light shade - bliss

Hugs and love
Carrie x