The Moon

(Museum of the Moon, Lincoln Cathedral, February 2022)

When I feel like this, I often dream of the moon 

Like a ball of clay – cold touch, light hugging dark

The moon said it was never lonely

But I thought all that darkness must be terrifying and cold 

Like a ball of clay – cold touch, light hugging dark  

The voice was like an echo 

But I thought all that darkness must be terrifying and cold

I can’t even be sure I heard it speak audibly

The voice was like an echo 

I don’t feel the cold here, the moon added

I can’t even be sure I heard it speak audibly

So I let the moon shine on, in all its contentedness 

I don’t feel the cold here the moon added

The moon said it was never lonely

So I let the moon shine on, in all its contentedness

When I feel like this, I often dream of the moon.

*This is a pantoum poem inspired by a Poetry workshop by Thom Seddon back in Summer 2020. I chose to publish it after being reminded of it when I visited the Museum of the Moon installation at Lincoln cathedral.

30 Before 30: Did I do it?

Hopefully those following up on this already know what I am talking about. But if not, here’s a quick summary. Back in April 2021 (about 10 months before my 30th Birthday and feeling a bit down from a lockdown birthday), I wrote a list of 30 things to achieve before my 30th Birthday on January 23rd 2022. The original post and list is here. Then I also gave an update back in December on how I was getting on and you can read that if you want too.

Now we are two weeks since my 30th birthday – I had a great weekend celebrating with friends and family so thank you all. And on with the list, how did I do?

Long story, short is that I did not technically achieve all 30 things. But in my defence, some would have been unrealistic in winter months and I had left them too late to achieve in the middle of December or January so I did not push too hard on these as that would have been pretty unpleasant to try and complete them and that was not the idea of the list. However, as mentioned last time, I am very close to achieving the last few and plans are on the horizon so I will endeavour to achieve them in my 30th year! All in all, I ticked off 25 out of 30 which I feel is fairly impressive given certain restrictions and less than a year to complete. If anything, it gave me some fun and focus to achieving some goals.

Below is the final list. Some of you may notice that the ones I had already achieved by December, I have kept the explanation the same. This is just the updated list and the ones highlighted in blue are the recent goals achieved and the red ones are the ones I did not manage yet!

  1. Go Vegan for a month (or more!) As I said, this one I actually achieved last January and loved it. I really recommend trying out more dairy and meat free options for many reasons!
  2. Try new craftsWell this one I think I have completed too. Photography, collages, embroidery, wreath-making, even a little more baking (but not much!)
  3. See a sunrise/sunset from a new place. This one I had planned to tick off on a wonderful New Year trip we had planned visiting theme parks in Rust, Germany before meeting friends in Paris to welcome 2022 from Disneyland. If you’ve seen the headlines, you’ll know that had to be cancelled. So, instead we planned a few days away around the UK and I watched the sunrise over the Staffordshire hills with a coffee in hand and the warmth of the campervan. Not quite what I had planned but it was a lovely sunrise all the same!
  4. Experience cold water swimming. I joyfully ticked this one off with my Mum and Dad on a summer holiday near Shropshire. Ben found a great spot in the River Wye by Hay-on-Wye and I feel like we were very lucky to have such a beautiful first-time experience of cold water swimming. 
  5. Run further than you have run before. The furthest I’d run before this goal was 6.2 miles or thereabouts for a few 10k runs. I signed up for REDJanuary (Run every day) and managed to run 7 miles on 22nd January (a day before my 30th!) and I hope to continue adding more miles soon.
  6. Do an escape room. This one I did with the help of our friends Carolyn & Chris and I’m happy to say we had a great time and made the leaderboard. To make it even better, we completed a Pirate themed room (perfect for us as for some reason, we have a pirate obsession – some sort of inside joke and I’m not sure we know where it started…)
  7. Go on a campervan tripBelieve it or not, even though we bought a campervan back in October 2020, it took us awhile to both properly get out there and camp out in it (mainly due to lockdown restrictions and work), but I’m happy to say we have now had a couple of trips – one fairly local in Lincolnshire and the other much further afield for a friend’s wedding in Cornwall. More campervan trips to follow!
  8. Taste a nut roast. Again, I’m surprised I didn’t do this in Veganuary last year and I know it’s not exactly a rock’n’roll 30 before 30 list. But it’s my list and all that. Anyway, I tasted a lovely nut roast when having a family Sunday dinner out at a pub and would definitely have again as an alternative to a meat roast!
  9. Re-read a story/series from childhood. I decided I wanted to read C.S Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series as I have a lovely set of these books from my childhood (or my brothers!). I thought I would be enjoyable to read these during the Christmas season (not that the books are Christmassy!) and I finished all 7 in January.
  10. Have a solo photoshootThis one I had ticked off when I wrote the list. As I said before, I am not exactly confident in front of the camera (especially on my own) but our wedding photographer offered a remote shoot for teachers so I did it and got some lovely self portraits! 
  11. Make a will. I have signed up to the online platform and have started the process. It still needs to be finished as this is something I did not want to rush without discussing with my loved ones, but it feels good to have the start of something important for our future.
  12. Learn about my family historyIt’s my parents that have been doing this one and I’ve really enjoyed hearing about what they have discovered so far about their family trees. We still have more to discover so I guess this one is ongoing in its nature, but I am glad we’ve started the process. 
  13. Get a new haircut. I didn’t quite manage this one before my birthday, but my hair appointment is booked for half term and I am hoping to get something a little different – just three weeks behind on this one! I maybe could allow this one to be ticked off?
  14. Travel for a solo weekend away. I have not technically managed to do this one this year. I was hoping to utilise the campervan and hopefully I still will… but a genuine issue is that I am too short to be able to put the campervan bed up and down (sounds like a lame excuse but I am serious, I have tried it!) so for now, this remains incomplete. But, as I said in my original blog, I did travel to South Africa (via Paris) on my own back in 2015 so I feel like I am able to tick this one off. But I would like to travel solo somewhere again soon, it just wasn’t before my 30th.
  15. Off-roading in a Land Rover. Thanks to Ben and his Land-Rover-loving friends, I had a fun green-lane experience! We were properly spoiled by some stunning views across the Welsh border. Thank you to Matt for taking us and letting me have a go! 
  16. Try sushi. In the summer holidays, I took a couple of days in London with good friends. They took me to a lovely local and authentic Sushi restaurant – and I loved it, more than I expected! So I’ve even had sushi a few more times. 
  17. Learn at a rum cocktail class. As planned, I wanted to tick this one off in style for my actual birthday. And that we did! I highly recommend Revolution de Cuba for a rum cocktail class! It was great fun.
  18. Donate blood again. I did this one in November and it was a good feeling being able to make a small but important difference. I can’t believe I had previously donated over six years ago and just let life get in the way. So I am going to make this a more regular habit and if you can too, please consider donating blood. 
  19. Join a book/writing clubNow this one I am going to check off because I have found a writing club to join. However, not long after I signed up, they changed their meet up days to a weekday when I have other commitments. So I have been continuing with some other online writing groups with prompts and news but I was hoping to join a more local one. Maybe one day. 
  20. See another West End showThis one was originally booked in for November (having already been re-arranged before that due to theatre closures) but it was moved again to December. But we finally got to see Harry Potter and The Cursed Child last weekend and it was a fantastic way to kick start the Christmas holidays!
  21. Get a tattoo? Now this one I had a big question mark next to it. However, the idea has grown on me more that I thought it would and I have a few ideas now about what I might want. I still have questions and doubts, but I think I have now chosen what I would like and will try and build some courage to get it before I’m 31.
  22. Attend a photography class. I joined Skillshare for a month trial and really enjoyed the experience. I managed to complete about 5 courses – most of them were photography classes and a couple were writing related. I learned a lot about the basics of photography that I did not know so I’m looking forward to putting these into practise.
  23. Sleep in a bell tent. On that note, another one yet to achieve. This one is actually more realistic than I realised as Ben knows someone with a bell tent that I could use for a night. But I did not get organised enough and sleeping in a bell tent in the middle of December/January was not such a good idea… so this one remains incomplete for now.
  24. Climb a mountain/peak. Yet again, there is a theme appearing here about my underestimation of the bigger plans on the list. I had hoped to fit in a climbing weekend over at Scafell Pike but with Ben and I being very busy at work, and not wanting to climb on my own, I’ve not got this one done yet either. But watch this space.
  25. Watch classic movies. This one I think I can tick off. I never really settled on a specific list to achieve this one but I have enjoyed watching classic films I’ve not watched before: Jurassic Park, Close Encounters, Indiana Jones, The Matrix, Groundhog Day, Fantasia, Inspector Gadget… just to name a handful.
  26. Grow my own vegetables. Now I had hoped I would achieve more here. But once again, I left it until Autumn to really get going on my list and by then, I had failed to play to the seasons. I did grow some spring onion indoors, but this was more like a gimmick than growing my own vegetables! I have ticked it off but this is probably cheating!
  27. Plan my next novel/ writing projectThis was a big one, but I have done this. I am pleased to say I have worked on a few different writing projects including planning and starting to draft my first novella, with a plan for a different one altogether and also a final draft of a young children’s picture book story. 
  28. Try a hot stones massage. Thanks to my Mum, after reading my blog and list, she organised a spa afternoon for us to try out a hot stones massage. It was a great experience and I would definitely do it again!
  29. Plan a ‘La La Land’ Themed PartyThe original plan was to try and do the La La Land party for my 30th birthday (we both love the film), but with big plans for an outdoor space, I think January is too cold and unpredictable. So we are now thinking of a combined 30th birthday for both of us in the Spring time. This is why I said about planning the party not necessarily hosting it before I turn 30! 
  30. Ride in a hot air balloon – or at least book it! I could tick this one off because it’s in the planning pipe line and was one of my presents from Ben for my 30th birthday. Again, January is not a great time for a hot air balloon ride, so this will be postponed until warmer days!

So there we have it, my 30 before 30 list. One 5 left and some very nearly ticked off too! Thank you for joining me on my little adventure and I hope it’s inspired you to make a bucket list of your own!

Reading List 2021

Another year, another reading list published. I’ve been doing this since 2015 on this blog and it’s really interesting to go back and remember what I’ve read.

Also, this year I’ve smashed my previous totals. In recent years, I’ve averaged around 50-60 books, but have managed 72 this year as I succeeded in reading 6 books each month. It was quite tricky but I managed it by mixing up my reading each month with longer/shorter fiction, non-fiction and audio books.

Enjoy my list and let me know what you’ve enjoyed reading too! 📚

JANUARY

The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse – Charlie Mackesy

The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

Zero Waste Year – Eco Books

FEBRUARY

Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

The Divine Conspiracy – Dallas Willard

The Confession by Jessie Burton

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

The City of Brass – S.A Chakraborty

Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson

MARCH

Dancing By The Light of the Moon – Gyles Brandreth

House of M – Marvel Comics

The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron

The Librarian of Auschwitz – Antonio Iturbe

Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection

Eternity is Now in Session – John Ortberg

APRIL

Blackberry Wine – Joanne Harris

The Nail – Stephen Cottrell

Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell

The Pearl – John Steinbeck

The Foundling – Stacey Halls

The Magician’s Elephant – Kate DiCamillo

MAY

Klara and the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro

Blandings Castle – P.G Wodehouse

Hearing God – Dallas Willard

Midnight’s Children – Salmon Rushdie

Devotions – Mary Oliver

The Seal Woman’s Gift – Sally Magnusson

JUNE

The Winning Motivation – Gareth Morgan

Things a Bright Girl Can Do – Sally Nicholls

How To Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk – Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlisch

Dubliners – James Joyce

Abide with Me – Elizabeth Strout

The Story of a New Name – Elena Ferrante

JULY

Shakespeare – Bill Bryson

Noughts & Crosses – Malorie Blackman

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction – Eugene Peterson

The Invisible Life Of Addie LaRue – V.E Schwab

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Strange Hotel – Eimear McBride

AUGUST

The Salt Path – Raynor Winn

The Summer of Impossible – Roman Coleman

People Like Us – Louise Fein

Go Set A Watchman – Harper Lee

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

A Meal with Jesus – Dr Tim Chester

SEPTEMBER

Viva South America – Oliver Ranch

Pachinko – Min Jin Lee

The Picador Book of Contemporary American Stories – Ed. Tobias Wolff

Star Wars 1: Heir to the Empire – Timothy Zahn

Hot Milk – Deborah Levy

The Urban Circus – Catriona Rainsford

OCTOBER

County Girls – Edna O’Brien

Live No Lies – John Mark Comer

The Music Room – William Fiennes

American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins

The Way of the Heart – Henri Nouwen

Songbirds & Sirens – Real Hopeful

NOVEMBER

Inspired – Rachel Held Evans

Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman

Pig-Heart Boy – Malorie Blackman

A Boy Named Christmas – Matt Haig

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Jack Thorn & J.K Rowling

A Whole Life – Robert Seethaler

DECEMBER

The Magician’s Nephew – C.S Lewis

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S Lewis

The Horse and His Boy – C.S Lewis

Prince Caspian – C.S Lewis

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – C.S Lewis

The Silver Chair – C.S Lewis

Final total: 72

1 month to go: 30 Before 30.

Hello, and thanks for checking in again with me, one month before I turn 30.

For those who don’t know, back in April, I decided to approach this next milestone with optimism and adventure, and wrote a list of 30 things to complete before my birthday on January 23, 2022. You can read that here.

A few caveats I’d already made is that I had to be fairly realistic in my bucket list because we are living in a pandemic (they don’t blow over quickly, it would seem) and I also made my list in mid-April, meaning I’d already got less than 10 months to achieve them all. Also, I said I would do a half-way check in, which would have been around September time and that never happened, apologies.

But let me check in with how I am getting on.

  1. Go Vegan for a month (or more!) As I said, this one I actually achieved last January and loved it. I really recommend trying out more dairy and meat free options for many reasons!
  2. Try new crafts. Well this one I think I have completed too. Photography, collages, embroidery, wreath-making, even a little more baking (but not much!)
  3. See a sunrise/sunset from a new place. This one I had planned to tick off on a wonderful New Year trip we had planned visiting theme parks in Rust, Germany before meeting friends in Paris to welcome 2022 from Disneyland. If you’ve seen the headlines, you’ll know that’s not happening. So I’ll be re-thinking this one!
  4. Experience cold water swimming. I joyfully ticked this one off with my Mum and Dad on a summer holiday near Shropshire. Ben found a great spot in the River Wye by Hay-on-Wye and I feel like we were very lucky to have such a beautiful first-time experience of cold water swimming.
  5. Run further than you have run before. The furthest I’ve run is 6 miles or thereabouts. I thought I would have completed this by now but my exercise has been stop/start since August so I have made this a lot harder for myself as I probably have not run more than even 3 miles for months! I have signed up for REDJanuary (Run every day) and plan to get myself moving further than 6 miles soon!
  6. Do an escape room. This one I did with the help of our friends Carolyn & Chris and I’m happy to say we had a great time and made the leaderboard. To make it even better, we completed a Pirate themed room (perfect for us as for some reason, we have a pirate obsession – some sort of inside joke and I’m not sure we know where it started…)
  7. Go on a campervan trip. Believe it or not, even though we bought a campervan back in October 2020, it took us awhile to both properly get out there and camp out in it (mainly due to lockdown restrictions and work), but I’m happy to say we have now had a couple of trips – one fairly local in Lincolnshire and the other much further afield for a friend’s wedding in Cornwall. More campervan trips to follow!
  8. Taste a nut roast. Again, I’m surprised I didn’t do this in Veganuary last year and I know it’s not exactly a rock’n’roll 30 before 30 list. But it’s my list and all that. Anyway, I tasted a lovely nut roast when having a family Sunday dinner out at a pub and would definitely have again as an alternative to a meat roast!
  9. Re-read a story/series from childhood. I am currently doing this now. I decided I wanted to read C.S Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series as I have a lovely set of these books from my childhood (or my brothers!). I thought I would be enjoyable to read these during the Christmas season (not that the books are Christmassy!) but I am currently on book 5 out of 7. So I’ll cross this one off but I do still have some reading left to do.
  10. Have a solo photoshoot. This one I had ticked off when I wrote the list. As I said before, I am not exactly confident in front of the camera (especially on my own) but our wedding photographer offered a remote shoot for teachers so I did it and got some lovely self portraits!
  11. Make a will. I have done some research in this area and have a couple of options as to making a basic will. So we just need to get on and do it now. I’ll leave this one unticked for now but it is in the early stages of being done!
  12. Learn about my family history. It’s my parents that have been doing this one and I’ve really enjoyed hearing about what they have discovered so far about their family trees. We still have more to discover so I guess this one is ongoing in its nature, but I am glad we’ve started the process.
  13. Get a new haircut. I wish I’d been a little braver and already tried this one because each time I go to the hairdressers (probably about every 10-12 weeks or so!), I just keep asking for the same dry cut – basically a trim with more layers put back in. I like it, so I’m not forcing myself to change for the sake of it, but now I’m making it a more daunting dare to ask for anything different.
  14. Travel for a solo weekend away. I have not managed to do this one (yet). I was hoping to utilise the campervan and hopefully I still will… but a genuine issue is that I am too short to be able to put the campervan bed up and down (sounds like a lame excuse but I am serious, I have tried it!) so for now, this remains incomplete. But, as I said in my original blog, I did travel to South Africa (via Paris) on my own back in 2015 so I feel like I might be able to tick this one off. But I would like to travel solo somewhere again soon, it just might not be before I’m 30.
  15. Off-roading in a Land Rover. This one is in the pipeline for the next few weeks. Thanks to Ben and his Land-Rover-loving friends, I’m hoping for an off-roading experience… although I can imagine I will be more lamb than lion.
  16. Try sushi. I crossed this one off with style! In the summer holidays, I took a couple of days in London with good friends. They took me to a lovely local and authentic Sushi restaurant – and I loved it, more than I expected! So I’ve even had sushi a few more times.
  17. Learn at a rum cocktail class. I have had a few rum cocktails but that does not technically fit the brief here. But my plan is to book a restaurant for my birthday at a Latin American style place where you can also do rum cocktail classes!
  18. Donate blood again. I did this one in November and it was a good feeling being able to make a small but important difference. I can’t believe I had previously donated over six years ago and just let life get in the way. So I am going to make this a more regular habit and if you can too, please consider donating blood.
  19. Join a book/writing club. Now this one I am going to check off because I have found a writing club to join. However, not long after I signed up, they changed their meet up days to a weekday when I have other commitments. So I have been continuing with some other online writing groups with prompts and news but I was hoping to join a more local one. Maybe one day.
  20. See another West End show. This one was originally booked in for November (having already been re-arranged before that due to theatre closures) but it was moved again to December. But we finally got to see Harry Potter and The Cursed Child last weekend and it was a fantastic way to kick start the Christmas holidays!
  21. Get a tattoo? Now this one I had a big question mark next to it. However, the idea has grown on me more that I thought it would and I have a few ideas now about what I might want. I still have questions and doubts, but the fact I was fairly confident this one would not happen and now I am feeling more confident that it will, a lot could change!
  22. Attend a photography class. My plan is to sign up to SkillShare in the New year and get some photography classes done online. I am looking forward to this and feel like I should have done this back in the summer, but it would seem trying to get nearly 30 things achieved takes more time and energy than I anticipated!
  23. Sleep in a bell tent. On that note, another one yet to achieve. This one is actually more realistic than I realised as Ben knows someone with a bell tent that I could use for a night. But I did not get organised enough and now sleeping in a bell tent in the middle of December/January is not such a good idea… but we’ll see.
  24. Climb a mountain/peak. Yet again, there is a theme appearing here about my underestimation of the bigger plans on the list. I had hoped to fit in a climbing weekend over at Scafell Pike but with Ben and I being very busy at work, and not wanting to climb on my own, I’ve not got this one done yet either. But watch this space.
  25. Watch classic movies. This one I think I can tick off. I never really settled on a specific list to achieve this one but I have enjoyed watching classic films I’ve not watched before: Jurassic Park, Close Encounters, Indiana Jones, The Matrix, Groundhog Day, Fantasia, Inspector Gadget… just to name a handful.
  26. Grow my own vegetables. Now I had hoped I would achieve more here. In fact, I have achieved very little and yet this is something I still really want to have a go at. But once again, I left it until Autumn to really get going on my list and by then, I had failed to play to the seasons. I did grow some spring onion indoors, but this was more like a gimmick than growing my own vegetables! Do I tick it off or not?
  27. Plan my next novel/ writing project. This was a big one, but I have done this. I am pleased to say I have worked on a few different writing projects including planning and starting to draft my first novella, with a plan for a different one altogether and also a final draft of a young children’s picture book story.
  28. Try a hot stones massage. Thanks to my Mum, after reading my blog and list, she organised a spa afternoon for us to try out a hot stones massage. It was a great experience and I would definitely do it again!
  29. Plan a ‘La La Land’ Themed Party. The original plan was to try and do the La La Land party for my 30th birthday (I love the film), but with big plans for an outdoor space, I think January is too cold and unpredictable. So we are now thinking of a combined 30th birthday for both of us in the Spring time. Watch this space. Either way, this is why I said about planning the party not necessarily hosting it before I turn 30!
  30. Ride in a hot air balloon. Again, having a Winter birthday is not a great mix for a hot air balloon ride, but I am hoping to celebrate my 30th (at some point of the year) with a ride in the sky.

So I think that makes it 17/30 although a few more of those are due to be ticked off the in the next few weeks. Although, that still makes a lot to achieve in a month! I know there are a few that may have to be re-arranged to fit within my 30th year before I turn 31 due to seasonal issues (and possible looming covid restrictions!) but the important thing here is that writing the list and achieving as much as I can has given me more focus to achieve some bucket list adventures! I hope it inspires you to do something similar… go on, go for it!

So, I’ll check back in around the end of January to see how many of the 30 before 30 I can complete!

Ciao for now x

30 Things Before 30

I’ll start by saying…I’m not having a mid-life crisis (yet). To be really honest, I’m not dreading the next big milestone birthday of 30. Sure, I’m a little surprised because, for now, I still feel like I’m 25 or something. Some days, I don’t even feel like I’m old enough to be an “adult”! But, the numbers are right, and I will be celebrating my 30th birthday in January 2022. I’m feeling positive about that. I think there’s a real gift about ageing well and appreciating every season, year or even moment. (But, ask me again at 40 and maybe I’ll feel different about how quickly life goes by!)

I’ve had quite a positive week and for some reason (probably the lighter and brighter weather, nature coming into bloom, the hope of the Easter story), the start of spring feels like new life to me — more than a new year in January or an academic year in September. I get this fresh wave of enthusiasm for reflection and goal setting, things just seem more possible in Spring, hope-filled, perhaps you feel it too? Anyway, you’ve probably guessed from the title but I decided to write a list of 30 things to do before I’m 30. It’s mainly just for fun and something positive and productive to focus on over the next 8 months. It features some very small things and some a little more challenging (I had to keep it realistic within current covid circumstances and given that I’ve already missed 3 months!)

23rd January is the deadline. That day is about 285 days away from today so I’ve missed about 80 days that could have been helpful to achieving my 30 things, but that’s partly why I’ve added a few to the list that I’ve already achieved (in blue) and some I already have planned (in purple). I’ve decided that’s not cheating because a) they were things I already wanted to do this year so would have ended up on the list if I had written it back in January and b) it’s my list so I’m pretty sure I can make the rules up. Just saying.

  1. Go Vegan for a month (or more!) 

So this one I have already achieved. I completed Veganuary but like I said, if I had written this list back then, I would have featured this because I’ve wanted to do this for a while. I really enjoyed the new options and do feel that massively reducing our meat and dairy intake is good for the environment, our health and simplicity.

2. Try new crafts

I’ve actually done a lot more of this since lockdown forced us to re-think our free time. I’ve tried scrap-booking, wreath-making, collages and embroidery… and really enjoyed all of them.

3. See a sunrise/sunset from a new place

I mean, it’s just a beautiful thing that we should do more of, right? I haven’t decided where but it will probably involve climbing some sort of mountain peak for a sunrise/sunset. Watch this space.

4. Experience cold water swimming

I’ve swam in cold seas and outdoor swimming pools before and I’ve tried to embrace cold showers as it’s apparently good for you. But I’ve not officially tried cold water swimming as a deliberate sporting activity…

5. Run further than you have run before

The furthest I have run is a 10km (6 miles) run or race, a few times. I am still tempted to do a half marathon at some point, but I think I will need to undertake a fair amount of extra training as I’ve lost some of my running fitness over the last year. So I’m going to aim to run further than I’ve ran before (probably about 10 miles, but maybe I’ll make it a half marathon at 12.whatever miles anyway.)

6. Do an escape room

I know I’m late to the party but I haven’t managed to do one of these yet. I’m also quite fussy about the type of mystery game I want to complete. I think I’ve found one I want to do fairly local so this one should be a fun one to tick off with some friends.

7. Go on a campervan trip 

Why not? We love days out, weekend adventures and trips away. So, as restrictions start lifting, we’d love to get a few days away in a campervan!

8. Taste a nut roast

Random, I know. But one of the things I really missed during Veganuary was a proper Sunday roast. However, I’m still determined to try other Vegan options so I’ll give a nut roast a go! I’m not a big fan of a nutty flavour, but maybe the other ingredients and flavours will help?

9. Re-read a story/series from childhood

I’d like to re-read the C.S Lewis Chronicles of Narnia series and I’ve recently re-acquired them from my parents but I think I’ll try to do this around November time so that it’s a wintery run up to Christmas season. Maybe I’ll sneak a few others on my reading list too!

10. Have a solo photoshoot

I’ve ticked this one off too! I love taking photos on my phone, SLR camera or polaroid, but I often feel camera-shy and unconfident on the other side of the lens. But when our wedding photographer was offering remote photoshoots (using a smart phone app) for teachers, I decided to go for it (!) and I’m so glad I did.

11. Make a will

This might seem morbid, but I think it’s important to have something in place and we can’t avoid the inevitable forever. Especially now being a married homeowner, with plans to have our own family, I think we should have a basic will as something to start with.

12. Learn about my family history

My parents are already investing a lot of time into this so I can’t really take credit for this one, but I would love to sit down with them and learn so much more about our ancestors.

13. Get a new haircut

It sounds easy enough, but I have rarely changed my haircut. And I’ll probably not change it dramatically, perhaps a fringe? Perhaps some highlights? If you know me, I have never even dyed my hair so this is actually quite a big deal for me. I’m still worried I might hate the change because my current long straight hair is super low maintenance, but what’s the worst that could happen? I could hate it.

14. Travel for a solo weekend away

I have travelled solo on day trips and weekends around the UK, and even flew across to South Africa solo (with a short stop-off at Paris) before meeting some friends out there, so I have had a big taste of it before. To be honest, I think I’ll always prefer travelling with my husband or family, but I think it’s important to enjoy your own company and challenge yourself to a little solo adventure!

15. Off-roading in a Land Rover 

My husband and his friends love Land Rovers and some are lucky enough to own or borrow one. I’ve driven an old Land Rover around some country fields and roads before, but I want to experience the full off-road experience for a day!

16. Try sushi

Some of you might think I’m crazy for not already trying sushi. But I am generally not a seafood fan other than some basic fish options, so it’s never really been on my priority list. But, I want to at least try it so that I know for sure that I don’t like it!

17. Learn at a rum cocktail class

I LOVE rum cocktails so this seems like a no-brainer for me. I’ve made many homemade rum cocktails and tried a fair few on an evening out! I’m going to try a class for some fun tasty new skills and tricks.

18. Donate blood again

It’s just a great, important thing to do! I have done this a few times, but I have not been for a few years now and I just need to get over myself and get myself booked in to donate more regularly. Simple.

19. Join a book/writing club

I never said it was a wild list! And now I’m starting to feel like a middle-aged, middle-class woman… but I do love books and writing, so I figured it would be nice to try out a book or writing club to share that with a small community.

20. See another West End show

This is usually my choice of birthday outing because I love a good theatre show! But, obviously, we have not been able to go for a long time now. However, we’ve booked our tickets for two-part, long-awaited (for me!)… The Cursed Child in London. I am so excited.

21. Get a tattoo?

This is the only one with a BIG question mark over. I like and appreciate tattoos on other people — but I’ve not personally felt the need to get one. However, every now and again, I sometimes think of a meaningful image or word, and think that I might like to have something small and symbolic to carry on my skin. But then I never settle on one idea and I’m not overly convinced, so this one may get axed!

22. Attend a photography class

I have already mentioned that I love taking photos and I really appreciate capturing memories. I regularly look back at photo albums and past photos on my phone but I don’t really know anything about photography or editing or anything, so I’d love to have a few hints and tips!

23. Sleep in a bell tent

Simple, but sounds and looks like a lovely thing to try (especially those ones decorated all ornate and quaint for a glamping trip).

24. Climb a mountain/peak 

This could probably be combined with the sunrise/sunset one earlier! It’s good to keep exploring and get out into the great outdoors. We occasionally go on long walks or hiking, but we generally prefer less strenuous activities, so I think it will be good to climb another mountain (maybe one I’ve not done before, like Scafell Pike or Ben Nevis, they would be more challenging too!).

25. Watch classic movies (Top 50!)

I love watching movies and probably watch films once or twice a week. But I often re-watch films I like and so I’m going to try and watch some classic films not yet watched. I’ve not yet decided which definitive list to use or whether I should just adapt my own.

 26. Grow my own vegetables

I have this dream of having a thriving vegetable patch or allotment, but I’m also not a gardener or a grafter (just ask my Mum or my husband!) so I think I like the idea, more than the process. But I am going to try a few beginner options to get a little vegetable harvest. I really need to think about that pretty soon given the current season…Mum, if you’re reading this, please can you help me?

27. Plan my next novel/ writing project

I’ve had a bit of a rocky patch this year with my writing. It’s just been difficult managing work change/stress and finding the right creative headspace to start from scratch again (after the highs of self-publishing back in early 2020) but I would love to complete another writing project, so I’m putting it on here to help push it forward.

28. Try a hot stones massage

It’s a good job some of these things we can do for free, otherwise I could have a very expensive year ahead of me. This one may be a little luxury but I’ve always wanted to try it, so why not?

29. Plan a ‘La La Land’ Themed Party

I’ve actually got a note on my phone with some detailed plans for this. The only issue being that La La Land (although being set across a year of all seasons) is mostly about colour and sunny Los Angeles so having a birthday party in January makes this somewhat ironic. I may need to finalise the plan before my birthday, but pull it if off in a brighter, warmer time of year.

30. Ride in a hot air balloon 

This is the big one for me! I’ve known for a while that I wanted to do this for my 30th birthday. Basically, I love hot air balloons — the colours, the shapes, the magic (or engineering, as you might call it). I am aware that I may dislike the heights once I am actually inside and up in the air though. My absolute ideal would be to see other hot air balloons whilst I’m up there, like at the hot air balloon festivals we have been to, because I love admiring the hot air balloons, but not necessarily being in one. We will have to see. I think the price tag will determine that one for me though!

And there we have it. My 30 Before 30 List. Maybe it’s inspired you to write your own list? No matter your age, you’re never too young or old to set some new goals. Well done for reading this far if you have – it’s been a long read, I know. But I wanted to document it so thanks for sharing it with me! My plan is to update you at a few points in the year…seeing as we are 4 months in to this year already, maybe I will update at 8 months and 12 months (the final countdown!).

Here we go!

When All is Uncertain

When all is uncertain,

I count the things of which,

I can be sure of.

Things I can count.

Things I can know.

Things I can see or touch.

Control is an illusion,

But today, this helps.

One.

Breath is in my body.

Two.

I will walk the dog.

Three.

We will see falling leaves.

Four.

I will touch a conker.

I love the feel of a conker.

And,

As it turns out.

Today, I only needed to count to four.

To be sure, to be certain.

When all is uncertain,

I count the things of which

I can be sure of.

The Reading List 2020

So 2020 is over… what a year it was and will always be remembered as “unprecedented” to me too.

Under the circumstances, I thought I might have read a few more books, but it seems there really never is enough time!

I managed 62 books this year which I am still very impressed with. Some have been quite sizeable too – 1Q84 is actually a trilogy and 928 pages – and I’ve also listened to a few books on audible which is a new habit for me now I’m regularly dog walking!

Anyway, here’s the list! Happy reading x

The Reading List 2020

Before the Coffee Gets Cold – Toshikazu Kawaguchi

First We Make the Beast Beautiful – Sarah Wilson

The Third Hotel – Laura van den Burg

Full – Asheritah Ciuciu

The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler

Brooklyn – Colm Tóibín

Melmoth – Sarah Perry

The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry – John Mark Comer

Reappearing Church – Mark Sayers

Sweet Sorrow – David Nichols

That Glimpse of Truth – Ed. By David Miller

South America – A Lonely Planet Guide

Rules for Living – Sam Holcroft

The Heart’s Time – Janet Morley

Travels with a Mexican Circus – Katie Hickman

The Secret of Literacy – David Didau

Hotel du Jack – Dan Brotzel

A Call Less Ordinary – Rich Wilson

Unlocking the Reader in Every Child – Susan Elkin

The Names of God – Ken Hemphill

Night Theatre – Vikram Paralkar

Tin Man – Sarah Winman

The Circle Maker – Mark Batterson

The Carnelian Fox – Kay MaCleod

The Jesus Way – Eugene H. Peterson

The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling

Doggerland – Ben Smith

The Bible from Scratch – Simon Jenkins

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

IQ84 – Haruki Murakami

Celebration of Discipline – Richard Foster

Toffee – Sarah Crossman

What if Everything You Knew About Education Was Wrong – David Didau

Foul is Fair – Hannah Capin

Unreached – Tim Chester

King of Shadows – Susan Cooper

Five Quarters of the Orange – Joanne Harris

The Island – Victoria Hislop

Mere Christianity – C.S Lewis

The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern

A Beginner’s Guide to Free Fall – Andy Abramowitz

Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams

Animal Farm – George Orwell

Soul Keeping – John Ortberg

Becoming – Michelle Obama

Some Children I taught and What They Taught Me – Kate Clanchy

My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante

Out of the Ordinary – Tim Morfin

Beekeeper of Aleppo – Christy Lefteri

The Gospel of Loki – Joanne Harris

The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth – John C. Maxwell

Amsterdam – Ian McEwan

The Common Rule – Justin Whitmel Earley

The Many – Wyl Menmuir

Mother Tongue: The English Language – Bill Bryson

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Career Coach – Corinne Mills

Educated – Tara Westover

A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

Devotions – Mary Oliver

Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney

The Big Issue Presents: Letters to my Younger Self

In The Loop Newsletter

FInal

 

Now that I have a book released, I’ve been slowly trying to reach wider audiences that might be interested in my short story collection and other works, as well as keeping current readers and supporters up to date. With the help of a friend, I’ve been working on developing a monthly newsletter.

It’s still early days but I’ve been slowly increasing my reach through social media, book swaps, reader magnets, and giveaways through my newsletter (some of these things I had no idea about and thanks to Kay, she has been willing to give me an idiot’s guide along the way! (Go check out her writing at kaymacleodbooks.com).

Why am I telling you this? Well simply because I started this newsletter back in April and I have only just added this to my blog so I suppose it’s partly delayed housekeeping and partly to see if you’re interested in signing up to my newsletter. As I’ve said, it’s montly and it includes writing updates, book reviews, flash fiction, book swaps and deals for you and more!

To sign up – go to this link: SUBSCRIBE! 

Thank you and I hope you enjoy it!