2016- What. A. Year. Never have I known a year boast so many fantastic highs and devastating lows, personal achievements and challenging hurdles- as well as so many scary worldly goings on that it's sometimes almost unfathomable to wrap my tiny head around them. It's not easy tapping into everything that's gone on during this year (we've seen plenty in the news and online)- so I won't try and summarise it in a fleeting sentence. All I do know is that it's made me realise how fortunate I've been. How it's so (more than ever), important to look out for others, support people where you can and ultimately try and make an effort to understand and learn- because I'm pretty sure that's how change begins.

Anyway, I won't try and summarise everything in one chunky paragraph- but instead I've broken my year down a little (more so as a personal momento of the last 12 months)- as it's always wonderful being able to come back and see what I actually managed to tick off and what went on (especially as I first did this in 2012, which is very surreal to look back on)! Anyway- let me take this moment (before I end up typing up a serious storm) to say thank you. I have had more support this year than I could have ever have hoped for- and have honestly achieved more than I could have ever have dreamt of when I first started this (which I always think is so important to remember when in the comparison trap)! Anyway. Thank you. You're the best. (I mean it). Anyway, on with the show (or ginormous essay)!

Life: So- LIFE. What did it hold in 2016? Apart from plenty of pals, travel and lots of blogging (which I'll definitely natter more about in a mo)- I definitely felt marginally more grown up this year. Most importantly I FINALLY passed my driving test! It was my main goal for this year, and after learning for well over a year (and then my instructor retiring)- I booked myself an intensive course and got down to business- THE RELIEF. This gal also got herself her first tattoo (hopefully the first of a...couple), saved up and up (so next year things can get REALLY GROWN UP) and also saw The Last Shadow Puppets with Rebecca after about one hundred years of fangirling. It was well and truly worth the wait.

Blogging & Youtube: In terms of the internets, it's been a pretty big and surreal year for me. Let's start with the. big. one. This year I was signed to the agency of my dreams, Storm (!!!), which I never in a million years imagined could happen (and still can't). This was all down to my friend Estée, who I properly 'befriended' this year and am constantly amazed and impressed by her kindness, success and determination and her support has been endlessly appreciated. On top of that I was also the face of a brand (!!!) and spotted my mug in several mags with Trollbeads which was so exciting. I also went to the BAFTA's, slightly stalked Colin Firth at the Bridget Jones premiere and got an awesome online magazine feature with Joe for Atlas magazine too. Now, in terms of YouTube, it's been a funny year. I still don't quite know my place, and I'm thinking (cough, hoping) next year may be slightly different. I've felt the pressure of comparison a great deal this year- and although I know I shouldn't (in fact, nobody should)- it's been a learning curve into what and where I really want my channel to go and how to me, success definitely isn't measured by numbers (it took a while folks, trust me)- which I think is only ever a positive thing.

People: Speaking of friends, this year I've been lucky enough to get to know and make some new ones, as well as cherish some of my bests and older pals too. It's been a busy non-stop year and I know I can be quite a tricky friend to pin down (and reply to texts)- so knowing who is, and will always be there (with the patience of saints) has been so important- and really taught me the value of special pals. On top of that I also had my first ever grown up friend wedding with some of my main ladies (and hen do)- which was amazing (kudos, Caz) and realised how ruddy lucky I am to have a certain Joe in my life- who is without a doubt, the biggest support and someone who understands my weird and wonderful job inside out so is always there for everything. I could not do it without him. I was also lucky enough to go on holiday with my family to New York, which was one of the most special trips in a looong time. Being able to switch off a little bit, decompress and laugh ourselves silly was wonderful and I am so lucky to have such a special family too.

Travel: Last but not least, travel. And OMG. being able to visit everywhere from Kenya to Australia is more than I could have ever have wished for. I genuinely cannot believe how fortunate I've been to see so much of the world this year (and I'm still not sure how I wangled so much into the year too). From going on safari, which was absolutely unreal (especially with the company of lovely Lucy)- seeing Australia with Joe (with a whole heap of posts coming in the New Year), ticking off more of Europe (including falling in love with Copenhagen) and heading back to the Big Apple and Disneyland- it's all been a surreal, exciting whirlwind. On top of that, I also managed to tick off a little more of the U.K (namely by falling hard for Manchester and doing a piece for Glamour in Glasgow)- and hope to add to that even more in 2017- fingers crossed!

If you've read this far, then MY GOODNESS I salute you. Thank you so much for your patience and have a VERY happy, healthy and wonderful 2017. Go get 'em tiger.

x

What Olivia Did in 2016...

(Jumper: Topshop, Jeans: Urban Outfitters, Bag: C/O Michael Kors, Boots: & Other Stories)

Photos by Joe Galvin

It's the period after Christmas and between the New Year that I like to try and soak up the last of the festive atmosphere (somehow when London has grey days with twinkly lights it's far more acceptable)- and make the most of taking a bit of a breather, before a big refresh come January. Browsing around the city and playing tourist in the spots you'd usually skip for lesser known corners is always fun- and being able to cosy up in a chunky knit and a diary without any commitments is one of the biggest treats there is- all the better if there's ice skating involved too!

I'm using the last handful of days before January like the last few days before the start of a new school term after a holiday; getting inspired, starting to plan and set some goals for the new year- and potentially treating myself to a new pencil case in the process (as well as dragging people around London with me to soak up the last decorations too)...



x

Winter Wonderland

(Suit: Topshop (not online sadly, but available in pink and black), Shirt: Zara (similar here), Shoes: Zara (similar here), Bag: Chloe)

...but I totally promise that isn't why I'm dressed like a Christmas elf- it's purely coincidence.

But here's another velvet suit on Christmas eve for ya! Perhaps this is turning into a bit of a fancy schmancy tradition, but there's something magical about the night before Christmas, so I thought I'd dress for the occasion (even though, lets be honest- the PJS are ironed and ready). Although I'll be mainly fuelling up on mince pies, seeing friends and going to my favourite local Italian with my family- I thought I'd check in early to wish you all an absolutely beautiful Christmas.

I have a big old post talking about this year coming up (which I'm sure I'll get suitably soppy in) but wanted to just say a big thank you here first. I've had an unfathomably large amount of support this year, and me and my LGS (little green suit, FYI) are incredibly grateful. So! Here's to turkey slathered in cranberry sauce, 6am Christmas Day wake ups (because I am actually 7 years old) and a bit of family down time (dotted with some competitive cracker pulling and Trivial pursuit challenges)!

Merry Christmas ya filthy animals (and a Happy New Year)!



x

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

(Jumper: C/O & Other Stories, Jeans: GAP, Shoes: Chanel, Bag: C/O & Other Stories)

Photos by Joe Galvin

I'm not quite sure how it's only 2 days until Christmas when this goes up, but fortunately for once I'm up to date on my gift buying (ok, bar one) and I've attempted to spend most of this week gradually winding down and trying to really get into the festive spirit (and not just by sitting at home blasting Kelly Clarkson's crimbo song either). So, earlier this week before one of my last meetings before Christmas, Joe and I wandered to one of my favourite streets in London, Camden Passage, for a mooch in the shops (and SMUG) and some serious wreath admiration.

For the occasion (or, ahem, December)- I turned to this suitably festive (and totally all year round) knit, favourite boyfriend jeans and a dreamy black bag which I like to think is my 'Birkin basket' of the winter. I'm not one hundred percent sure it was ankle weather, and seeing as it's now far chillier, I'm pretty sure I'll be in 120 deniers for the foreseeable future...



x

Festive Red & Other Stories


Undoubetdly one of the most magical things about London during this time of year are the department stores. The inner Buddy the Elf in me (or Kevin, or in fact Rowan Aktinson in Love Actaully) has a seriously soft spot for the twinkling lights, glossy and bustling shop floors and the chance of maybe spotting a certain Mr Claus peeking around in a secret grotto too. It's not just about the shopping, but the buzz of the last minute rush and just soaking up the countdown to the final few days until Christmas.

This year I was lucky enough to be invited in to my favourite store in London, Selfridges, for a visit to the elves in their 'Elfridges' department- a cosy corner on their Christmas floor (or online), in which you can receive tailored personal shopping for every imaginable gift for every special person in your life. Naturally, all of this is done within your budget, to your tastes and to your timings- who said Christmas shopping was stressful? On top of that, Joe and I also stopped by their incredibly festive Forrest on the Roof- fuelled by cosy blankets, delicious dishes, logs, disco balls and all- to refuel after scouring the shop floor.

Okay, so I know there's plenty more than one way to 'give' at Christmas (trust me it's far more than a perfectly wrapped box or stuffed stocking) - but I do recommend popping by (even if it is just to catch their special festive performances most evenings)! I have also popped below a few of my other festive favourites in the city, if you want to inject a little bit of Christmas spirit during the last few days.

My favourite London festive spots:

The Christmas floor and Nutcracker windows at Liberty, the gift and cake selection at Fortnum and Mason, the tree (and rink) at The Natural History Museum, Carnaby Street, Tiffanys and Cartier at New Bond Street, pink palace Peggy Porschen and their endless festive treats, the decadent Burlington Arcade, Portobello Road and the last minute Christmas shoppers, Columbia Road flower market and bouquets of berries and mistletoe, Somerset House at night, and Covent Garden's Apple Market and peeking into Clos Maggiore.

Christmas Time In The City

MEET OLIVIA

MEET OLIVIA

Hello, you! I'm Olivia, or Liv- a 23 year old girl living in London, spending most of her time blog writing, photo taking, social media updating and occasionally cake baking.

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