Guest Post: Why I Love my Weird Portfolio Career

Our second guest post while I’m away on my honeymoon is from Katy, my fellow freelance friend and founder of Freelance Folk.

Katy Carlisle helps people to create lovely websites using a tool called Squarespace. She’s also the founder of Freelance Folk, an award-winning community for freelancers that runs popup coworking social events in Manchester and Sheffield.

She likes sustainability, food and animals. Which is lucky, as she lives in the Peak District with her boyfriend, two cats and two dogs.


Why I Love my Weird Portfolio Career

I was chatting with some other small business owners a few weeks ago and we started talking about the jobs that we’d had before becoming self-employed. Some of them were quite surprising!

It got me thinking about the jobs that I’ve had on the route to becoming a freelance Squarespace whisperer. Rather than just recreating my LinkedIn profile, I’ve decided to make things a bit more interesting and hand out awards to my former roles.

Poorest Performance


Possibly the world’s worst waitress, in fact.

My first ever job was working for the Boddington Arms Pub in Wilmslow. The whole terrible affair came about when I asked one of the parentals for a clothing allowance, to which she responded, “Yes, but you have to try and get a job first”. Most 15 year olds would have nailed this; making it look like they’d tried to find work but been turned down at every opportunity.

Annoyingly for me, I was a GOOD GIRL. And I liked to do things properly (to be fair, I still do). I didn’t deliberately mess up the application form or “accidentally” get the interview time wrong. And I got the stupid job. Amazingly, I lasted six months despite regular excellent service which included dropping a (used) fork in a man’s pint and spilling a jug of water so that every single person seated around the table somehow ended up getting soaked. I had one couple who “dined and dashed” as well, but I think my highlight was getting a 2p tip. Like, they had to actively leave TWO PENCE.


Most Surprising Job

Estate Agent

Yes, it’s weird. I’m a generally decent person with a strong ethical framework. Plus I’m really bad at sales.

However I did, and still do, really like houses.

At University, I’d spend most of my time watching Sarah Beeny roll her eyes as couples ignored her patronising-but-ultimately-sensible advice. I was looking forward to pretending to be one half of Kirsty and Phil, and showing people round houses on viewings. Unfortunately, the location that I worked from was deemed too dangerous for a girl to show people round unaccompanied, so I was consigned to the office. I don’t think I got to see the inside of a single house in the months that I was there.

The deal breaker for me though was the income structure. You got a bit of commission for completed house sales, which I was quite good at as it was just matching people with places and not being overly evil or incompetent, but the rest mainly came from upselling mortgages. The problem was that I just couldn’t in good conscience recommend our in-house mortgage advisor. It had also been marketed as a graduate scheme role, but it became apparent pretty quickly that nobody had actually put a scheme in place, and after six months not a single person remained from the ten that had started.


Most Obvious Future Career Hint That Was Ignored For 10 Years

MA in French to English Translation

This technically wasn’t a job, but I was working full time whilst studying. My workplace was conveniently located next door to the lecture theatre and my lectures were extremely conveniently timed at 1pm and 5pm, so I would run over as soon as my lunchbreak started or my working day ended.

Anyway, I digress. For my Masters I had to do a dissertation, which consisted of a large translation of our choosing, plus some boring academic theory. I just about scraped a pass on the theory side, but got great marks for the practical part, which was… [drumroll please] the translation and redesign of a French website. Naturally, I then went on to work as a teacher and in the charity sector for another decade until I finally listened to my webby calling 😂

My final award is more of a thank you to an organisation that I used to work for.


Lifetime Contribution Award

Positive Impact

I started working at this non-profit in 2011, and it’s here that everything begins to make a bit more sense. My teaching experience was actually relevant, as I was project managing the education programme, and they even wanted a bit of sales experience so I was able to refer to my time as an estate agent during the interview.

During the three years I worked for Positive Impact, my role evolved to focus more on managing their online systems, as I finally embraced my inner geek. Seriously, at one point I swear I had a montage of all the clues that been left for me along the way. It wasn’t just the dissertation! My friend Sally and I had taught ourselves HTML to make Geocities websites in 1998, I did a project on the use of technology in the classroom as part of my teacher training… The list went on.

So I’m really grateful to my former boss Fiona, who gave me the space to develop and figure all of this out. She’s really inspiring and passionate about people living the lives that they want, even though sometimes this backfires on her as there are quite a few of us who were so inspired that we left to set up our own businesses! It’s all worked out brilliantly though, as Positive Impact are now my clients so it’s lovely to still be involved with what they’re up to, plus I get to go along to their Christmas do. Yay!

One of my former colleagues Charlie (who now works as a florist) nailed it. “It’s like Hotel California. You can check out, but you never leave”.


Continue Reading

Guest Post: Is it ok to change?

Our first guest post is from Charlotte who is a newbie blogger looking to start a blog soon! For now, catch her on Instagram

“My name is Charlotte, I’m originally from Stockport but now living over Lancashire way with my husband and our English Pointer! Family is everything to me. My hobbies include travelling, the gym and going out for meals with family and friends, oh and cake…… I love cake! I have recently left a nine year career in the Criminal Justice field to pursue my passion of helping to transform people’s lives as a Personal Trainer.

Follow me on Instagram- charlottejanept 

Or if you have any Personal Training Enquiries please email me-

Is it Ok to Change?

Hello lovelies,

Im Charlotte and I contacted Diane when I saw her post asking for guest bloggers as she was lucky enough to be jetting off on her honeymoon! I have been wanting to start a blog for a good few months but keep thinking of excuses as to why I shouldn’t. So when I saw she was looking for guest bloggers I thought I would see if I could write a post as a trial run before I start mine and to see if any one actually likes it!

So here goes…….

Let me take you back to 2012, I was overweight, not massively, but still over weight. I used to go to the gym because I thought it was what you had to do, slogging it out on anything Cardio related seeing little or no results and eating what I believed to be a relatively healthy diet Monday- Friday. Weekends revolved around poorer food choices such as, takeaways, convenience food and alcohol, lots of alcohol.

I was in the gym one day when I was approached by a Personal Trainer (who went on to become one of my best friends!) and we bonded over a love of chicken! She took the time to sit down with me and find out about me and my goals and why I wanted to lose weight. Looking back I said I wanted to lose weight but never taken the time to actually think about why I wanted to do this. For me at the time it was to look like my friends, they were all slim and had abs and I felt like I was the ‘fat friend’. So my fitness journey at that time was to lose weight and to look good stood next to them.

I actually ended up winning a competition for months free Personal Training. This was the turning point for me, I began to love the gym…. I actually looked forward to my workouts, I even ventured in to the ‘mens weights area’. For anyone that goes to the gym this was a massive achievement because there is often a lot of anxiety often surrounding this area……’is he looking at me?’, ‘am I doing this right?’, ‘people are judging me!’. I began experimenting with food and enjoying cooking myself nutritious foods instead of my often very beige diet which I had deemed to be ‘healthy’.

If someone would have said to me to stop in the main doing cardio and eat more than you have eaten and you will lose weight I would have laughed. I was scared about doing it but it actually worked!! My body shape started to change and I began to feel more confident and wear tighter clothes which I would have never worn before! I stopped drinking as much and didn’t feel the need to massively binge at the weekends because I could see I was looking better every day and more importantly, feeling better. I felt more motivated, less fatigued, less grumpy, full of energy and was sleeping better.

I kept training with my trainer on and off and felt confident in the gym. Fast forward to 2015 and I was really struggling with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), this is something I had suffered with since I was 18 but it was really starting to rule my life. In January 2015 I thought enough was enough and I cut out what I believed to be the two main contributors to my IBS…..gluten and dairy. I noticed a big change in a short space of time. I was feeling the best I have ever felt. Now this wasn’t easy and I wouldn’t advise anyone to do this unless they have genuine intolerances as it is very limiting and involves a lot of forward thinking with your food preparation. It can also be awkward when going out, but generally places are very accommodating now. When I first tried to control my IBS when I was 18 (failed miserably, I was at Uni and it wasn’t cool to be gluten free!), the gluten free bread was like eating sawdust and it wasn’t really a ‘thing ‘ back then, but now it seems too be a massive craze to be ‘gluten or dairy free’ because people perceive it to be  healthier……anyway that’s another blog post entirely!

Around this time I was getting in shape for my wedding as I was getting married in the September of 2016 (nearly my wedding anniversary!). I was going to the gym 5 days a week, exercising on my rest days and religiously counting my macros. I definitely became obsessed with this, I cut out alcohol where I could, obviously not totally but I wouldn’t drink just for no reason. As alcohol, for me anyway, makes me put on a lot of weight. My trainer made me see that I was doing too much, I was giving myself no days off. She made me see rest days are just as important as training days, as I wasn’t giving my body anytime to recover. I went back to just the 5 days a week and not 7!

Around this time, I noticed that my friends weren’t happy with me when I would go out and say I was driving and not drink. It caused them to confront me on numerous occasions about this. I was being made to feel like I was doing something wrong because I was not drinking. I was still going out and staying out….and let me tell you, I don’t just sit in a corner miserably because I’m not drinking…. I’m probably up dancing more than the drunk people!! I came to realise over time that they were just not happy with the fact I was changing. I wasn’t the drunk Charlotte that would fall over the floor and not remember how she got home because she was too drunk. Don’t get me wrong I loved my party days but there comes a time when you have to look at yourself and think is this really the life I want? And for me it wasn’t……. I wanted to become healthy and I enjoyed going to the gym. For me to drink alcohol every weekend would be counterproductive to my goals. If people are interested in this I will do a further blog post on this and go into more detail. I’m trying to just write an over view of my journey rather than bombard you all with wayyyyy to much info!

So anyway……over the past 18 months I had probably become a bit obsessed with macro counting as for anyone who has used My Fitness Pal you can become obsessed! For the last 3 months I have been introducing bits of dairy and gluten back in to see exactly what I am intolerant to, to see if there are things I can now tolerate which I couldn’t before. I am also trying to regain a bit of balance. I am now going out not worrying about not being able to track my food and just going with the flow and enjoying myself!! Throughout my fitness journey I have come to realise that it is finding out what works for you and then just doing that. It has taken me four years so far to get to this point but I finally feel that I am at the point where I don’t beat myself up about having a slice of cake (I had one last night….ok actually I had 2!)or going out for a meal with friends. Because those are memories that we make in life and if I was to restrict myself and was too busy macro counting I wouldn’t be able to make these fantastic memories! For me now I don’t go to the gym and eat healthy because I don’t want to be the ‘fat friend’, I do it because that is what makes me happy and it is a lifestyle that I enjoy living.

I honestly believe that meeting my Personal Trainer at that gym that day went on to change my life. My fitness/ journey to a healthier lifestyle has been up and down since 2012 but now I have such a better understanding and knowledge around fitness, nutrition and mindset and more importantly a greater understanding about me!

In February of this year I took the plunge and completed my Personal Training qualification, originally I did it just for my own knowledge but I have since gone on to leave my career to be a Personal Trainer. I want to help and inspire others to reach their goals and transform their lives like I have done. I have left working within the Criminal Justice System which is all I have ever known for the past 9 years, but I wasn’t happy within that field and hadn’t been for some time. Now I am truly living my passion and what’s more I get to meet and help fantastic people reach their goals!

This was just an over view of my journey so far, I would love to go into more detail about specific bits I have talked about. I hope you enjoyed this and would like to read more!

Continue Reading

My Week #62 – Packing and Planning

*Lovely Luna *My holiday notebooks

*New trainers *Packing madness

So much packing and planning this week!

It’s only a few days before Topher and I head off on our honeymoon and I am so freaking excited. So excited  that I filmed my first Vlog. Check it out here and please let me know what you think:

It wasn’t too hard and I got a bit more comfortable in front of the camera as time went on. Fingers crossed that I can actually keep this up while I’m away as it would be so awesome to have some videos to show when I get back. At the very least I’ll have my usual music video type highlight reel of the trip.

So this week has mainly consisted of getting stuff ready for the honeymoon.

I’ve been sorting out work and I’ve been scheduling tweets and posts for while I’m away so things should be ticking over. I’m almost finished packing and I’m currently transferring all my spreadsheets into note form to put into my notebooks.

Everything I need to buy has now been ticked off the list. Rucksack, check, Trainers, check and Shorts, check. Though as of yesterday I couldn’t find any shorts so had to resort to buying sale jeans and cropping them myself.

And I have to take a minute to talk about my new trainers. They’re Nike and my parents picked them up for me from the outlets in Florida as they just got back from the USA themselves this past week. I am in love with these trainers. They’re purple which is my favourite colour, they’re super light and I think they are without a doubt the comfiest pair of shoes I’ve ever walked around in. So pretty and lovely.

I lost a pound at Slimming World

By some miracle. No idea how – we were completely off plan bar the slimming world ready meals we got so we could avoid takeaway temptation. That makes me feel a little better before I head off. I’m even toying with the idea of joining a gym when I get back. Who am I? I’ve been to the gym once when I was 17 or so with my mum. It wasn’t bad but obviously I didn’t catch the bug. Maybe I can piggyback off of all the walking I’m about to do. So much walking. Watch this space.

As for this weekend,

Topher and I are going out for a friend’s 30th on Saturday. Sunday I’m sure will be full of cleaning as Emma will be house sitting for us while we’re away and I don’t want to leave her in a tip! Otherwise, please excuse me while I dance around the house because I’m going on holiday in 3 days! Squee!

How was your week?

Continue Reading

An A-Z of Me

I can’t remember which blog I saw the tag An A-Z of Me but I liked the idea and so thought I would do it today. It’s pretty fun, even Topher found himself doing an A-Z of himself last night. It really makes you think about what makes you, you.

So here is my A-Z of me:

A is for Arabic

Arabic is supposed to be my second language. But I don’t speak it. One day I will though.

B is for Bullet Journal

I bloody love bullet journalling. I discovered it in April last year and it works so well for me. It’s a great way to use my ever growing washi tape collection. Check out how I set up my bullet journal for this year and how I set it up for the month ahead.

C is for Cat Lady

I’ve always been known as a cat lady, even when I didn’t have a cat! Because we moved so much, I always looked forward to the day when I would own my own and in January 2015 we finally got Pickles and Luna. Words cannot express how much I love them and it feels like they’ve always been in my life. I can’t believe they’re 3 in November.

D is for Disney

So I might be a bit of a Disney nut. I’m obsessed with the history (hence why I can’t wait to visit the original Disneyland next month) and my goal is to visit every single Disney World. So far I’ve only done 3 (Florida, California & Paris) but that will definitely be rectified. I’ve even passed my obsession onto other people. Sorry, not sorry. Walt Disney World in Florida is by far my most visited park with me clocking up about 7 trips in the last 10 years…yowza!

E is for Egypt

I’ve lived in Egypt twice. Once for 2 years when I was a toddler and once for 6 months when I was 10. I haven’t been back since and wouldn’t mind heading back one day to see a bit of my childhood. I was so happy there when I was 10.

F is for Freelancer

I’m well into my second year of being a freelancer now and I’m loving it. Sure the money isn’t as good as being an office drone but I’m so much happier now.

G is for Gifs

I love a good gif. It was Topher that came up with this one for me and I know why. Most of our text conversations are just gifs.

H is for Harry Potter

It’s by far my favourite book series and I’m a proud Hufflepuff. I realised the other day that I haven’t read the books for a few years now so maybe I’ll have to give them a reread soon. And I need to visit the studios in London again!

I is for In Jokes

Topher and I have so many in jokes that it’s ridiculous. We are unstoppable as a team in games like Articulate and Pictionary. We just have to say one meaningful word together and we’re falling about laughing. If you ever do meet Topher, you have to ask him why you should never follow a man in a kilt.

J is for Jordan

Jordan is where my family live and I visit every single year. That’s right, I haven’t missed one. It’s just my yearly pilgrimage. Luckily it doesn’t have to stop because Topher loves Jordan now too. Yay!

K is for Knick Knacks

I like to collect things from my travels and those are usually knick knacks. It’s been awhile since I visited anywhere new but I’m sure I’ll add to my collection soon.

L is for Lists

I do love a bloody good list. It’s always been that way. It ties in with my stationery addiction nicely. Buy me some stationery and you’ve found the way to my heart.

M is for Mrs

I had to mention this since I got married last month and am now a Mrs. How is it only last month? It feels like forever ago!

N is for Nomad

My blog and my life. 25 homes and counting. But don’t worry, I’m going to sit still for a little bit now.

O is for Organised

If you asked any of my friends about how organised I am, they would say VERY! Since I like to make lists, I like to organise things. Nothing makes me happier than a notebook or a good old spreadsheet and I’ve definitely confirmed that when planning the honeymoon. I am aware that the amount of planning I’ve done is insane. Maybe I’ll have to do a post or a video about how I did it.

P is for Polkadots

I rock a lot of polkadots. That is all.

Q is for Quilt

I like to be cozy. I like wrapping myself up in layers and I love a big quilt or a throw. I got a gorgeous purple one for the living room and its just so damn fluffy!

R is for Restaurant

I’m a foodie through and through. There’s nothing I like better than picking up a menu and choosing something interesting and new. Hence why our honeymoon is centred around food. Oh and the sights too I guess…

S is for Slimming World

Following on from my love of food, I’m also a member of Slimming World and have been on and off for about 4 years now. I haven’t reached my target yet but I’m determined that I’ll make it one day.

T is for Topher

How could I do an A-Z of me without mentioning my husband? I love being able to say husband now. Topher and I have been together over 8 years and I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else. He’s my best friend and my love.

U is for Undead

A bit random but I love a good zombie film. I can’t sit through many horror films but zombies I’ll happily endeavour. George A Romero is a God. RIP.

V is for Voting

When I was younger I was never interested in politics, but like many people over the last few years I’ve gotten myself clued up and I’m proud to say that I always vote now. It’s too important not too. It’s our right and whether our party win or lose, at least you can say that you had a hand in it.

W is for Wanderlust

As mentioned in my latest post, I love travel. I want to see everything and go everywhere. 32 countries down, so many more to go!

X is for X-ray

I’ve had a whole lot of x-rays but I’ve never broken a bone. Pretty impressive considering how clumsy I am!

Y is for Yorkshire

My Arab side is Palestine but my English side is Yorkshire. Even though I barely spent 2 months in my birth place, it’s still a constant in my life. Mainly because my grandma lives there.

Z is for Zakaria

My last name – or at least it was. It’s now Zakaria-Welburn. I couldn’t let go of my maiden name. As annoying as it is for anyone English to say it incorrectly (seriously people, I know it’s foreign but it’s not difficult – Zak-ah-ree-ah) including at my graduation, its still mine and it’s my link with my Arab side. I may not look Arab and I may not be able to speak the language but it’s still a part of me and I’m keeping it.

If you’ve ever done an A-Z of yourself, leave a link – I’m super nosy and enjoy reading them!




Continue Reading

My Week #61 – Camping & Cats

*Wifefest *Fish and Chips *Pickles *Working hard

Did not do too much at all this week

The one cool thing was that Topher and I attended the wedding of one of my Freelance Folk friends, Michelle. It was festival themed and called Wifefest. We had such a great time! It was in a barn and there were games and irish dancing and a fish and chip van. Topher and I even stayed overnight in a tent. I’m not much of a camping person (like not at all!) but we survived the night and it was actually pretty fun. Afterwards we headed to a pub near our house for a Sunday lunch and then went to the cinema in the evening. I’ve now seen The Dark Tower and Girls Trip. Both really good.

I put on another 2 pounds at Slimming World

I’ve kinda lost the plot a bit. My focus is completely gone. But I haven’t lost hope. I think I just need to take a bit of time and get the honeymoon out of the way. Once that’s done I can climb aboard the wagon again. One of the Slimming World ladies pointed out to me that once I get back it will be about 14 weeks until Christmas so if I lost a pound a week that’s a stone. Until I get back I’m not going to beat myself up over it. In other news I really seem to have gotten my shopping bug back. And I blame this bag.

my week - bag It’s from Primark and it was all sold out but I managed to find one on eBay. Of course it was more expensive but I just really wanted it! I expect I would have paid that much anyway at another high street store so it doesn’t really bother me. Can’t wait to skip down Main Street with it. Less than 2 weeks to go!

How was your week?



Continue Reading
1 2 3 77