30 Before 30

I have a love/hate relationship with anything that resembles a ‘bucket list’ or ‘X before X’ list. I love the idea of optimistic goal setting but the realist (read: pessimist) in me knows that I likely won’t get to accomplish every goal I set myself due to lack of confidence, lack of money, or lack of opportunity – or all of the above. It’s because of this mindset that I have quite a fraught relationship with anything in this vein of list-making, particularly because it also strikes a strangely sensitive chord in me when it comes to travel-related goals which so often take up lists such as this.

You see, I have been to very few places in my life – growing up we just didn’t have the kind of disposable income that allowed for holidays to far-flung destinations; what we did have was the money to have a bloody good time going on a family holiday to a caravan site somewhere on the Spanish coast. Again largely because of money, I didn’t go on any school trips to places outside the UK either (no Easter skiing holiday or history trip to Auschwitz for me). I’ve never really felt particularly deprived because of this, I’ve just been very aware that I haven’t been to a lot of places that other people might have. But it’s because of this that I don’t even know where to start with places I want to see in my life.

So, you see, bucket lists and 30 before 30 lists spin me to all different kinds of personal places – and not necessarily in the way they intend. Even so, I’ve decided (probably quite foolishly considering I’m 25 at the time of writing this list, and 26 is fast approaching) to construct a list because God loves a trier, right? There’s a mix of low key goals or challenges here and there are some that are more dependent on me having the financial means and (to be honest) the annual leave left to complete them. However, I hope it’s a nice mix of doable and then the more challenging things to accomplish.

As I composed this list at the start of 2018 (yes it has taken me this long to decide what I really think of 30 Before 30 type lists, it’s a wonder I ever achieve anything at that rate), I’ll be already marking off anything I’ve achieved so far this year in 2018. I hope to document each challenge in some way on this blog, whether that’s through a blog post series explaining why I want to do each item on my list and/or through a blog post of me recounting my trip to the given destination or the skill I wanted to acquire etc. Either way, I hope you will stick with me on my journey to complete this 30 Before 30 list which might just help to change my initial perception/hesitation on the entire idea of them too!

  1. Visit 10 National Trust/English Heritage sites/national parks
  2. Visit Chatsworth House
  3. Visit Greenwich
  4. Visit Versailles
  5. Visit Paris catacombs
  6. Visit Notre-Dame Cathedral
  7. Visit Sagrada Familia
  8. Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour
  9. Visit Wales
  10. Walk on Main Street USA
  11. See a Shakespeare play at the Globe
  12. Attend the Championships at Wimbledon
  13. Eat a croissant in France
  14. Eat a paella in Spain
  15. Eat pasta/pizza in Italy
  16. Read War and Peace
  17. Read Les Misérables
  18. Read all of Jane Austen’s novels
  19. Read a novel in Spanish
  20. Read all of Shakespeare’s plays
  21. Complete a ‘Classics Club’ list (reading 50 classics)
  22. Host a readathon/readalong
  23. ‘Win’ NaNoWriMo (write 50,000 words in a month)
  24. Do a ‘blog every day’ challenge
  25. Knit a full garment (e.g. scarf/hat)
  26. Learn how to drive
  27. Own a MacBook
  28. Learn how to bake bread
  29. Learn a ballroom dance
  30. Attend a spinning class

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Catharsis | On “Friends’ Weddings”

Catharsis: noun  ca·thar·sis  \ kə-ˈthär-səs \
1 a : purification or purgation of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art

b : a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension
2 : elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression

I’ve always been the person who over-thinks things. The person who is indecisive because of this. The person who worries about whether what she has to say is worthwhile, or whether it’s whiny, or problematic, or just plain self-indulgent. Over-thinking is not a bad thing. But it does lead to a tendency to bottle things up and to let them fester, not expressing them, and thereby not releasing any tension they cause. My “cure” for this is a form of catharsis, my own personal brand of therapy, you might say, and since we live in a digital age it looks like I will be making the utterly foolish decision to put said thoughts onto the Internet instead of telling them to a licensed professional. But I’d like to be honest on this blog and I’d like this blog to be a true and accurate reflection of who I am… and who I am is sometimes self-centred and in dire need of a means of expulsion. So here we are, a new series of blog posts called Catharsis. I don’t know how frequent they will be, I don’t know how worthwhile they will be for anyone else reading them, but I know they will help me. And that’s kind of the point.


This past weekend was the start of what will surely be a lifetime of “friends’ weddings”.

Being at a friend’s wedding is… strange. It’s filled with the usual traditions, the usual obligatory “do you take this woman” and “do you take this man” etc., the usual toasts at the reception and inevitable drunken dancing that follows. But there’s something different about realising you’re at your very first “friend wedding”, as opposed to “family wedding”. There’s something different about realising someone your own age, someone you were at school with, someone who you joked around in English class with, is old enough and mature enough to not only consider committing to someone else long-term but also following through on that promise in front of a whole chapel full of people.

It comes from a place of genuine happiness – a sense of delight that your friend has found someone they love so much that they’re willing to enthusiastically vow to stay faithful for for the rest of their life. Words can’t express how amazing it is to see a friend you love dearly be so happy and settled in their relationship and their life. To catch their eye after the ceremony and witness how overwhelmed and startled, but also happy, they look.

But then, there’s the inevitable off-note as the concern starts creeping in. Wait. How on earth did we get here?! How did we get to the age and place in life where weddings are happening? When did I blink and miss the start of my transition into being an allegedly functioning adult? Oh… wait… I didn’t miss it because I’m not “there” yet, wherever “there” is. But my friends are and, as ever, it looks like I’ll be living vicariously through them as they get “there”.

“There” is where “we’ve moved in together” doesn’t sound weird.
“There” is where a “we’re having a baby” doesn’t sound weird.
“There” is where “we’re getting married” doesn’t sound weird.

My friends are “there” and I couldn’t be more delighted for them. But I can’t truthfully (even in my wildest dreams) imagine a time when I’ll be “there” so, instead, I guess I’ll be over “here”, watching from the sidelines – and, I presume, often from the pews of churches.


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Discussion | My Relationship with Exercise (inspired by Eat Sweat Play by Anna Kessel)

eatsweatplay.jpgThis is a post I didn’t ever think I’d have cause to write, particularly not on a bookish blog, but I suppose it’s been bottled up inside of me for long enough for me to need to get it all out of my system. And, as you will see by the time you (/if you, I wouldn’t blame you for not) reach the end of this post, this has been many years of pent-up feeling on the subject. As you can probably see from the title of this post, it is time for something completely different and a bit more of a self-indulgent personal post – it’s time to talk exercise. However, my thinking on this was inspired by a book which I (unfortunately) DNFed recently, Anna Kessel’s Eat Sweat Play. I didn’t DNF the book because it was a bad book – in fact, there were many interesting points raised by Kessel in even the little that I did manage to read of it in order to give it a fair chance. However, I found her way of talking about sport to be entirely at odds with my own view on it.

You see, I have a confession that might not be so surprising to anyone who knows the littlest thing about me: I’m not a sporty person, either in terms of participation or spectatorship. In fact I’d state that I have very little interest in it. I’m pretty much ambivalent towards football which unfortunately seems to be England’s preferred sport, I don’t get the point of rugby, I can tolerate cricket, I quite like tennis (bizarrely enough, I love Wimbledon when it rolls around), but the Olympics and Athletics Championships mostly bore me to tears (special exceptions made for Winter Olympics which are a whole different kettle of fish). So much for spectatorship… but when it comes to participation in sport and exercise, oh boy, this one’s a complicated one.

For me, exercise is something mainly relegated to some of the worst of school memories. Trudging unwillingly into PE classes, then the horror of the changing room, the constant embarrassment of knowing you weren’t ~good at sport~ so therefore you were put in the “mixed” PE group instead of the “boys” and “girls” groups… I could go on. Thankfully, some of my friends were also in my PE group so we stuck together and, whenever we were playing a team sport where they allowed the boys and girls to play against each other (i.e. non-contact sports), we had a couple of boy friends who would make sure we played against each other. The other girls in the group were… not nice to me, but I counted myself lucky because I heard horror stories from the “girls PE group”, of cattiness, bitchiness, and flat-out fights. When our PE teacher was off one day our group ended up being dissolved and we joined our respective “boys group” and “girls group” for a lesson – it was one of the single most embarrassing lessons of my life, we were made to feel like we were shit, and not given any kind of instruction from the PE teacher.

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Feature | Favourite Eateries #3 ft. Bakchich, Liverpool

If you’ve seen my previous Favourite Eateries, you will have vicariously sampled the delights of The Tavern Co and Lunya. Today, now for something completely different – Lebanese street food via Bakchich on Bold Street in Liverpool.

“Bakchich vision is to introduce Lebanese Street food to Liverpool and Manchester. It is also to educate and help our customers discover about the Arabic food culture, traditions and heritage that unite communities. Bakchich Cafe is Lebanese street food with a french twist, serving variety of Lebanese Mezza with innovations in the traditional Lebanese dishes from Shawarma to Falafel, and baklawa and a wide variety of healthy fruits cocktails, to meet the taste of our food lovers.” (Bakchich)

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Feature | Favourite Eateries #2 ft. Lunya, Liverpool

In my inaugural Favourite Eateries blog post I gushed at length about The Tavern Co in Liverpool. This time, I bring you something completely different – we’re ditching the tex-mex breakfast food and heading to the Iberian peninsula via Lunya in Liverpool.

With independent, family-owned restaurants in both Liverpool and Manchester, Lunya is Peter & Elaine Kinsella’s homage to Catalunya and Spain. Lunya is a combination of Catalan restaurant, deli, and bar, and they are multi-award winning, with the Liverpool restaurant featured in the Good Food Guide North West as Restaurant of the Year for two years running (2015 & 2016). Located on the corner of College Lane and Hanover Street, opposite Radio Merseyside, Lunya is best experienced when you have plenty of time to eat in Catalan fashion, that is to say: slow and social. If you’re looking for a quick get-in-get-out meal I would not recommend the Catalan restaurant, but if you’re happy to sit back, relax, and have some seriously tasty tapas brought to your table as and when it’s ready, then Lunya may well be the place for you.

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Feature | Favourite Eateries #1 ft. Tavern Co, Liverpool

If you are at all a frequenter of my Instagram, you will find many a picture of breakfast food. The reason for this is twofold: 1) I really love breakfast food, give me pastries and bagels and toast ALL DAY, and 2) I spent a lot of time eating breakfast at The Tavern Company in Liverpool.

Anyone who has been to the Tavern will understand this and I have to say I’m very glad I didn’t go to university in Liverpool because a lot of my student loan would have been “wasted” on said breakfast food. Except when it comes to their food, I don’t really think “waste” is the appropriate verb because oh my god it’s worth every damn penny and every damn calorie.

Is this just really a not-at-all-veiled love letter to one of my favourite eateries? Yes. So buckle in whilst I gush about it.

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London Trip 2017 | Day Four aka Breakfast, Sightseeing, and Art

Welcome to the fourth and final post in my wrap up of my (not so) recent trip to London  – you can check out the incidents of day threewhat I got up to in day two or take a look a day one. It’s took me far to long to get to the point of talking about the final day of a four day trip but here we are, it’s the home stretch now!

And we started the day off extremely strongly – with breakfast at Dishoom. I’m pretty sure I saw the rec on Twitter at some point, as one of the unexpected perks of following A LOT of London-based publishing people is that you see a lot of yummy-looking food which become instant London restaurant recs! It’s also quite possible I Googled too… because I’m thorough like that. Anyways, the point is, before we got to London I knew I wanted to try Dishoom for breakfast/brunch to see if it lived up to the hype. Reader, it did. Not only did it live up to the hype, it far exceeded it and, in fact, I fully intend to try to work another Dishoom breakfast trip into any London itinerary in the future. It was just that good.

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London Trip 2017 | Day Three aka Parliament and HAMILTON!!

Welcome to the third post in my wrap up of my (not so) recent trip to London  – you can check out what I got up to in day two here or take a look a day one here. What has inspired me to finally write up this, you may ask? Well, it just so happens that this very day I (yes I, not someone else) managed to bag some tickets to see Hamilton in the West End again in October! So it seemed about time to talk about the first time I was lucky enough to see the musical during my trip to London back in December 2017. Let’s see how Day Three of my London trip went, shall we? Let’s indulge nostalgia…

Day Three dawned bright and not so early and (not ashamed) we ended up eating leftover Dominos pizza as breakfast. We’re adults, we can make those kind of decisions, ok? We lazed about a bit, not going to lie, but knew we had to make it across to the first destination of the day by 11am – the Houses of Parliament tour – so we finally got up and got dressed and got ready to leave.

As soon as we stepped outside the hotel, I realise one very key thing – it was a shit weather day, there’s no two ways about it. I came very close to a hissy fit on the morning before we’d even got to Westminster because it was very cold and the weather had decided to do what I would call “horizontal rain”. Lovely. So instead of walking along Embankment, we plumped for hopping on the Tube at Tottenham Court Road (via Pret, naturally) and hopped off at Westminster. When you get closer to the River Thames, the wind gets stronger and that makes for a very miserable and very squidgy walk over to the Palace of Westminster.

We arrived at Westminster in plenty of time so we decided to take refuge in Westminster Abbey’s gift shop for a little while, and Liz managed to buy her Gran a nice postcard whilst we were in there. Then, scarves and hats donned, we headed back out into the driving rain for the mercifully short walk over to the Palace. As we approached the security gates at the visitor entrance I quickly realised that I’d been pissy about the rain but at least I didn’t have to stand out in it all day like the security guard did. We’d barely even said hi and started to make chit chat with him when he said “ah, it’s fucking freezing, I hate it” in an extremely broad Scottish accent. Nothing like a bit of weather-based banter to bring together nations, eh?

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Catharsis | The Twentysomething Acceleration Effect

Catharsis: noun  ca·thar·sis  \ kə-ˈthär-səs \
1 a : purification or purgation of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art

b : a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension
2 : elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression

I’ve always been the person who over-thinks things. The person who is indecisive because of this. The person who worries about whether what she has to say is worthwhile, or whether it’s whiny, or problematic, or just plain self-indulgent. Over-thinking is not a bad thing. But it does lead to a tendency to bottle things up and to let them fester, not expressing them, and thereby not releasing any tension they cause. My “cure” for this is a form of catharsis, my own personal brand of therapy, you might say, and since we live in a digital age it looks like I will be making the utterly foolish decision to put said thoughts onto the Internet instead of telling them to a licensed professional. But I’d like to be honest on this blog and I’d like this blog to be a true and accurate reflection of who I am… and who I am is sometimes self-centred and in dire need of a means of expulsion. So here we are, a new series of blog posts called Catharsis. I don’t know how frequent they will be, I don’t know how worthwhile they will be for anyone else reading them, but I know they will help me. And that’s kind of the point.


People say never compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 10. I’m paraphrasing completely but in a nutshell, that means that you shouldn’t compare your own life to someone else’s because even if they seem to be at the same point in life, they’re probably not. Their stories might just have a slightly more squished up timeline, their denouement and conclusion might come before yours, and you don’t know this by simply comparing and contrasting.

I used to be a big believer in this idea. I’m not so sold on it any more.

You see, when you hit your twenties something I have dubbed The Twentysomething Acceleration Effect happens. It will happen to some people, it won’t happen to others, and it will create a gap in experience that is difficult to breach. People who you thought to be ‘at the same stage’ in life will suddenly seem to be miles ahead. And it will happen what feels like overnight.

I like to pride myself on my empathy. Thanks to a rich childhood full of books of every type, I’ve lived in fictional worlds alongside characters both alike and unlike myself. This means that I’d like to say I can ‘think myself’ into quite a lot of points of view – I can imaginatively walk quite a few miles in different shoes, all in my head. But, as I get further into my twenties, I’m beginning to be unable to wear those metaphorical shoes because of said Twentysomething Acceleration Effect. For those unaware of the term (and let’s face it, I just came up with it, so why would you know?), I’ll explain…

You will have witnessed, if not knowingly, The Twentysomething Acceleration Effect in action. Symptoms include logging into Facebook and seeing yet another proposal post. It’s scrolling through a friend’s Instagram and seeing a sonogram. It’s hearing a couple of friends talk about house-hunting for their very first house together. It’s witnessing these things whilst you sit alone, with your biggest responsibility being putting up a blog post to maintain your regular posting schedule on your mediocre blog, and your biggest worry in life being whether to have pizza or fajitas for tea tonight.

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My 2018 Resolutions

Yep, as you can see from the title of this, this is one of those posts – an overly optimistic goal-setting for the year ahead in the form of New Year’s Resolutions.

For the first time in years, I had a pretty good year in 2017 in terms of resolution fulfilling. I finally stopped just saying I’d do things and actually did them. This was all in the spirit of putting my money where my mouth was and a just do it attitude. I think this was the secret to this year’s success, along with a healthy realisation that life is too fucking short and you can’t take it with you, this is it, this is life, so if you have the chance to live it and to do something, do it, before you can’t.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Realising it and enacting it are two very different things though… and in that spirit, I’m going to continue into 2018 and hope that the upcoming year is as successful. Let’s get to these resolutions and goals which, I warn you, are probably far too numerous… buckle in, guys!

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