Archive for ‘35:35 Challenge’

November 7, 2013

10 Things: BEDN #7

Today, on BEDN, the blog post prompt was ‘Ten Things’. I’m pretty sure that I’m supposed to write a list. I’m a great list writer. At the start of every year, I write a list of plans and goals for the year, and then I review them each month to see if I’m on track to complete them or not. It usually works really well and there’s nothing I like better than being able to cross something off my list with a sense of achievement. On the year I turned 35, I planned to try 35 new things before I reached 36. It nearly worked too!

For various reasons, my list of goals for 2013 went somewhat awry. But, I’m not one to be defeated and  in the coming month I shall be spending a considerable amount of thought on what I’d like 2014 to look like. I’ll probably share those plans on here, because there’s nothing quite like telling the world your plans to make you want to stick to them!

But today, I’m turning this list making on its head a bit, because I want your help. On Sunday, my beloved girl turns seven and she’s getting her first iPod for her birthday. It might seem a bit extravagant but she loves music and dancing, and I know she’ll adore it and get lots of use out of it. Every time I buy her toys they only seem to be played with for a few days before they find themselves languishing, unused, with all the other stuff, so I decided that it was worth the expense to buy something I’m sure she’ll use for ages. I’m going through the settings making sure that I set the volume control so she can’t deafen herself, and most importantly, adding songs to it.

This is where you come in. What I’d really like to know is this: what ten songs should definitely be added to the playlist?

I’m looking for great, great music. The songs that you think everyone should hear. Nothing over sexualised or with swearing, obviously. But tell me what you’d add; classics, fun stuff, your favourite song in the whole world, whatever you think should be on there. I’ve already added some songs she’s asked for, and believe me when I tell you, we need a bit more quality music – especially because she’s getting a little speaker too, so we’ll all get to enjoy what she plays and I can only take so much Gangnam Style!

So, help me out? Add your song suggestions in the comments and lets see if we can make a ‘Top Ten Songs’ playlist for my birthday girl…

Advertisements
December 29, 2012

My 2012: the year in review

It’s been a while since I wrote a post. My blogging timetable has gone completely out of the window and I barely know what day of the week it is. I blame that period in between Christmas and New Year – perfectly named ‘The Lull’ by a Twitter friend of mine. I don’t enjoy The Lull, I find these days to be an utterly frustrating combination of post-Christmas comedown and impatiently waiting for the new year to begin. Anyway, enough of my whining. I hope that those of you who celebrated Christmas had a lovely time. I’ll probably be starting the new year with a carefully-scheduled post about plans and resolutions and all my usual self-challenging kind of behaviour, but for today, I thought I’d look back at 2012.

It’s been an interesting year, one that I was really looking forward to, and I can’t quite believe it’s over bar the New Year’s Eve rendition of Auld Lang’s Syne. I suspect that most British reviews of the year will talk about the London Olympics, although I think that Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour De France was my own favourite sporting event of the year, and I’m utterly thrilled that Leeds will host the Grand Depart of the Tour in 2014.

My review will be a bit more self-centred than everyone else’s because I’m going to have a look at my own personal highlights of the year.

Luckily, it’s easy for me to look back on these, because this blog is a good record of what I’ve done. It’s amazing to look back and think that I did all these things this year. The trip to Rome in the spring was a wonderful highlight. It’s an incredible city and I’m glad to have visited. It didn’t quite capture my heart the way that Paris has though, so I suspect that I’ll be back in Paris before I return to Rome, but the hotel we stayed in was a unique experience, and one I’ll always remember.

Other highlights included my kayaking trip, despite the near-death experience of falling into freezing water twice. Ok, that’s a touch over-dramatic, I know. Anyway, it’s not been enough to put me off wanting to have another go if I get the chance, even though I have a feeling that I’m never going to be great at watersports. I’m planning to go surfing in 2013, which feels even more ridiculous than kayaking as far as the potential for doing myself some damage is concerned. What the hell, you only live once, right?

Earlier in the year I wrote a post about why Twitter has changed my life, and that remains as true as ever. Over the past year, I’ve met some people through Twitter who have become incredibly important to me in a very short space of time. They know who they are. The ever-increasing number of people I count as friends from Twitter is a wonderful thing. Basically, if we’ve ever had some kind of beverage together, then you’re on my list! This has only happened in 2012, and yet in many cases, it feels like I’ve known people far longer, particularly the ones who are responsible for the dramatic increase in my coffee consumption because of our regular lunchtime meet-ups.

As far as this blog is concerned, the absolute highlight has to be my commendation from the Blog North Awards, which simultaneously reduced me to tears and boosted my confidence in what I write so very much. It was completely unexpected and I will always be grateful for being nominated.

Of course, some things didn’t go quite according to plan. I didn’t manage to do 35 new things in my 35th year, which ended in June. Partly because, as always, I forget that I don’t have endless amounts of spare time and bags of cash to do things with. Not sure I’ll ever really learn that lesson though. I do regret that I didn’t manage to do Cycletta again on my new Pashley, but I might have a go at riding it next year. The other thing I regret is that I’m very, very unlikely to complete my Goodreads Challenge to read 52 books in the year. I’m still about ten books away from completing it, with only days of the year left. Having decided to read children’s books in order to complete it, I’ve found myself reading Michael Chabon’s ‘The Mysteries of Pittsburgh’ instead. A good book, but not a particularly quick read. Still, I have learnt that quality is more important to me when it comes to my choice of reading than quantity, so it’s not been a complete failure of an exercise.

The things I did complete during my challenge were all good in their own ways – from pop-up tea-rooms to drumming lessons – and I loved doing my challenge. After that finished, I’ve managed to do most of the things I wanted to get done in the latter half of this year, which has mostly revolved around my allotment and setting up Sage and Thrift with the most important person I’ve met in a long time, the wonderful and remarkable Josephine Borg.

So, a good year. As I’d hoped. They do seem to get faster and faster though, which is a little terrifying. Once it gets to this point in December, I never really want to bother with New Year’s Eve. I want to tidy up the Christmas decorations and get cracking with the next year. I know, I shouldn’t wish my own life away  but there is lots to look forward to in 2013 and I’m impatient for it to arrive…

June 6, 2012

A Final 35:35 Challenge Post

So, I didn’t get to 35 things. That’s ok. I feel as though I’ve learnt so much over this past year, that although I really wanted to make it, I don’t feel as though I’ve failed simply because of a number.

Highlights:

  • Completing Cycletta.
  • Completing the Yorkshire 3 Peaks and raising lots of lovely money for Bliss.
  • Drumming.
  • Learning to kayak.
  • Joining Twitter and all the wonderful things that have happened and people I have met as a direct consequence of that.
  • Strengthening older friendships, especially with Hillary, who taught me drumming and kayaking.

Lowlights:

  • The sheer bloody pain at the end of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks, which made me cry.
  • Falling out of a kayak twice.

Having said that these are lowlights, they are also some of the most memorable parts of the year, so I don’t regret them for a second. It turns out that I have a little masochistic streak that actually likes finding things a bit painful – it makes the success that much sweeter.

Other things I have learnt this year:

  • I am more capable than I think I am.
  • I don’t have to wait for someone else to join me when I try something new. I am brave enough to do things on my own.
  • I like physical challenges more than my laziness and ‘curves’ would suggest.
  • The scatter-gun nature of this challenge has been partly successful. It has made me better at saying ‘yes’ to things.
  • However, it has also made me realise that I now want a bit more structure to my projects.
  • As much as I enjoy being sociable, I also enjoy being alone sometimes to have time and space to think and read. This means balancing out my social activities so I don’t feel overwhelmed by them.

As we all know, the act of recording things changes them, but I’ve also realised that it is a really good way of getting a truer picture of what I manage to achieve. I sometimes have moments where I think that all I do is go to work or do the laundry. At those moments, I look at the list of things I’ve done over the year and it reminds me that I’ve managed some brilliant things, on top of being a good mum, employee, friend etc. So I will continue to record what I do, irrespective of this challenge.

So, what’s next?

PS: This means it’s my birthday today…

June 1, 2012

The Secret Tea Room

As part of my 35:35 Challenge, I recently spent a wonderful afternoon in the company of the wonderful Lynn Hill and a table full of strangers.

Lynn Hill is a bone fide celebrity these days. Founder of Clandestine Cake Club, creator of The Secret Tea Room, she is all about the cake. You might even recognise her from TV! The Secret Tea Room is a pop-up afternoon tea, held in a (you guessed it) secret location in Leeds. Lynn sent out the menu a few days before we all arrived and it whetted my appetite immediately: finger sandwiches, homemade savoury tarts, followed by a selection of different cakes, Yorkshire tea loaf with Wensleydale cheese, and plain scones with clotted cream and strawberry conserve…mmm.

I arrived on my own, to be met by a table full of nine people, all of whom knew one other person, but not the whole group. It didn’t matter. There is nothing quite like a table groaning under the weight of home-made afternoon tea treats to get the conversation flowing.

We chatted throughout the whole two hours and managed to work our way through the wonderful food. I loved all of it, but I surprised myself by loving the plain scones with clotted cream and jam the most – I ate two on the day, and was inspired to have a go at making my own afterwards (which you can see below) as part of my own Cookbook Challenge. The Secret Tea Room was such a lovely experience. The pop up or underground food experience seems to be well and truly established now and often involves talented people inviting strangers to dine in their own homes. Having enjoyed this so much,  I’m going to investigate other places to visit and eat. There is something truly interesting about dining with people you don’t know and the addition of food ensures that there is always something to talk about.

I might even join my local Clandestine Cake Club too – which is now a global phenomenon with 126 clubs dotted all over the world, including some amazing places such as Barcelona and the Grand Cayman! Perhaps Lynn should do a CCC World Tour…

If you have any food recommendations, I’d love to hear from you!

May 28, 2012

Cookbook Challenge

Recently I made the rather startling discovery that I’ve amassed a collection of 64 cookbooks. They sit on shelves in the kitchen and sitting room gathering dust, while I reach for a jar of pesto again and again.

Cookbooks are clearly something of an addiction for me. The sheer beauty of them, the gorgeous photography and styling and the promise they offer of a slightly better life, if only you try some of their recipes, draws me in time and again. Yet, I rarely cook anything different. Partly because of a lack of time, partly because my kids are stuck in a place where they refuse to try new things to eat and partly because of the ease with which I get stuck in the pasta pesto routine.

So, in an attempt to make my ownership of 64 cookbooks seem a little more sensible (and urged on by some lovely Twitter friends) I’ve started a mini-challenge, which is to cook something from each of my cookbooks. Originally, the deadline was to cook 35 new things before the end of my 35:35 challenge. However, as I’ve realised that there is a distinct possibility that  I’m going to fail in my challenge (something I’m not thrilled about, but hey, that’s life) I have now given up on that self-imposed deadline and now I’m just going to try to cook something from each of them.

To record this, I’ve set up a Tumblr account which will just have a photo each time I cook something, together with the information about the book it is from.

I’m hoping that this will re-ignite my interest in food, get the kids to try some new things, improve my diet and health a bit and make far better use of my lovely organic veg box and home grown fruit and vegetables. I’ve completed about half a dozen recipes now, and I’m really enjoying it. I’m hoping to focus my attention on things that are relatively quick to make, so I can easily cook them in the evening after work, rather than only making an effort every so often. I want this to be the start of a longer term change in my cooking and eating habits and I’m hoping it will have a positive effect on the rest of my household too!

One thing I’ve noticed though, is how many books about baking I have and how weighted in favour of a handful of authors my collection is. I seem to have every book that Nigel Slater has written, and a fair collection of Nigella, Rachel Allen and Jamie Oliver books too. However, I have not a single book about Thai, Chinese or Malaysian cookery, something I only realised after searching in vain for a Beef Rendang recipe the other day. So, perhaps once I’ve legitimised my collection by actually using it, I can start to add to it and fill the gaps – starting with a book about Asian cookery.

If you’ve got any cookbook recommendations, do let me know. I’d love to hear from fellow cookbook addicts!

May 16, 2012

A Weekend in Cambridge

Our main reason for going to Cambridge for the weekend was a visit to the Scott Polar Research Institute. My husband has long been fascinated by Captain Scott and I’m sure he’s becoming something of an expert on the subject of the ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration’, around the start of the 20th Century. So it felt like a fitting birthday gift to go with him to see a special exhibition to commemorate the centenary of Scott’s death and see the the original documents, letters and artefacts from that final (and sadly fatal) expedition. Not the cheeriest of birthday treats, perhaps, but one that I knew he’d really appreciate. I’ve been resisting learning about Scott for a long while, as I’m sometimes a bit feeble and knowing the unhappy ending thought it wouldn’t really be for me. However, since watching A Great White Silence earlier this year, I’ve found myself being drawn to the story, despite myself!

The entrance to the Polar Institute has two beautiful illustrations in the domed roof, of the Arctic and Antarctic regions of the world. Although it’s not a huge place, it’s filled with extraordinary items. The exhibition we were there to see has now closed, but I imagine that it will reappear again one day, given how popular it was on the day we were there.

It took me precisely one cabinet of letters for me to well up with tears. The notes written by Lawrence Oates about the ponies they took with them were truly poignant as it showed that they were in no fit state to begin the journey, even though they would be killed and eaten, as planned, towards the end. As someone with a fascination about the relationship between people and horses (it was the subject of my equine science degree thesis), this one little pencil written note was the first of many that had me in tears.

Further into the exhibition were decorations for Christmas celebrations, notes from various excursions within the main expedition, pencil drawn illustrations, Herbert Ponting’s photographs, notes for books, and many, many letters home. The reindeer skin sleeping bag from which Oates climbed to leave the tent and walk fatally into the snow (with the words ‘I am just going outside and may be some time’) was there, which drew quite a lot more of my tears. As did the final letters written by Scott, Wilson and Bowers when they knew they would die and Scott’s diary, opened at the final, barely legible entry before his death.

Despite the tears, I’m so glad I was able to see this exhibition. It’s made me want to learn more about this period of great exploration and given me a new level of admiration for these remarkable men.

After all my tears, we needed some sustenance  and that all important cup of tea, and the great hive mind of Twitter had firmly pointed us in the direction of Fitzbillies. A Cambridge institution, Fitzbillies closed down for a period in 2011. Thankfully, it was taken over by food writer Tim Hayward who kept everything that had made it so special. I was there especially to hunt down the famous Chelsea buns. My previous experiences of Chelsea buns having just been from the supermarket, I was completely unprepared for the utter wonderfulness of these ones. Handmade, sticky with syrup and filled with raisins and cinnamon, I fell completely in love and ate two while we were there. I’m planning to buy more by mail order for my birthday. Mail order Chelsea buns! My life is complete…

The following day we went to the Fitzwilliam museum, which is far larger and more impressive than I’d imagined. With an imposing entrance hall, an eclectic collection of exhibits ranging from Egyptian mummies to German porcelain and classical music performances on a lunchtime, this is a really special museum and I’d like to revisit to see more of it.

As we are planning to join the Friends group of the Polar Research Institute, we will be back in Cambridge again. After all, because of all the rain, we didn’t get the chance to go punting on the Cam, which I’d still love to do! I loved this city. The combination of stunning University buildings, great food, cultural highlights and cyclist friendly streets made for a great weekend break. I’d recommend it.

May 8, 2012

My 35:35 Challenge: A Month to Go…

As I write this, there is a month to go until my self-imposed 35:35 Challenge deadline and it’s looking as though I might not complete it, as I have eight challenges left, and not many ideas booked in, or much money to spend on it!

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about this recently, because although the Challenge is meaningless to everyone else, it has structured the whole of  last year for me.  It has made me say ‘yes’ to things where previously I might have said ‘no’. It’s made me braver, as I often find myself in places on my own and a bit out of my depth. It’s led me to new places, to new situations and to lots of new people. I am hopeful that a handful of those people might even become real friends. So, in short, it’s changed my life.

So, it shouldn’t matter if I don’t get to 35 things. The changes that have taken place within me will continue once my birthday is over. I’m still more likely to say yes than I ever was and be brave about trying things even if that means I have to sit at a table on my own, too scared to approach other people before being feeble and running away (which has happened).

It does matter though. It matters to me that I get to 35 things. It matters to me that I finish something. I rarely finish things, you see, and I want to finish this. One of my strengths is that I’ve always been really excited about what is new. What’s next. Planning, learning, researching – those are the things I love. It’s part of being a scanner. However, I know that my weakness is staying the course. Finishing things off is tedious and often dull, especially with the prospect of something shiny and new on the horizon. And there always is something shiny and new, because I’m interested in everything. Actually, not everything – computer games, Formula 1 and golf are rare things that I have no time for. Everything else though…

It doesn’t matter usually because once I learnt to accept who I was and what my personality is like (which took a long time and used up a lot of tears) I realised that I don’t have to finish things. Very often, once I have learnt what I want to learn about a subject, I’ll happily move on. Sometimes I return to that subject at a later date, sometimes it’s a one-time-only affair and I never look back.

Yet, I’m going to try, for once, to finish something. Even if I get to the end and the things I do are a bit small, or a bit dull, I’m going to finish it, just because part of being a grown up is learning to push yourself a bit, I think and let’s face it, if my last eight things could all potentially be ‘cakes-I’ve-never-eaten-before’, it’s hardly going to be uncomfortable, is it?

One of the reasons I’m going to try to finish, is because I’ve been re-reading one of the best books I’ve EVER read, ‘What do I do When I Want To Do Everything?’ by Barbara Sher. In one of the chapters, entitled ‘I Never Finish Anything’, Sher says that it is important to know how to finish a project, even if you feel like walking away, because one day you’ll have a project you want to finish (and I don’t mean at work, where I have no choice!) and you’ll need the tools to help you do that. So, this is my attempt to learn.

So, wish me luck, and if you happen to live in Leeds, and have something you think I’d like to try ( for free or very cheap) before my birthday Challenge deadline, please do give me a shout. Even if you want to be my partner in a ‘cakes-I’ve-never-eaten-before’ marathon eating day…

This is a cake I ate for the first time last week – triple chocolate brownie with salted caramel ice cream and popcorn, from Create. It was very special.

PS: My birthday is on 6th June, which I recently found out is the same day as Captain Scott’s birthday. This pleases me enormously.  Please send cake.

May 4, 2012

Kayaking on Coniston Water

It’s been a while since I’ve done anything physical for my 35:35 Challenge and I’ve really missed it. Thankfully, my friends are fabulous, and so last Wednesday, I tried my hand at kayaking on Coniston Water in the Lake District.

My lovely friend Hillary has already given me loads of support and last year, gave me a drumming lesson. Honestly, she drums, she kayaks, she’s the co-conspirator on Eating Adventures (which involves taking a bunch of work friends to a different foodie place in Leeds each month) and she makes the best flapjacks I’ve ever eaten.  She’s a total inspiration and I am very glad that she’s my friend. If you’re not following her on Twitter, you should be (@hilltux). Anyway, we loaded up her car with her two sea kayaks and set off for the Lake District early last Wednesday morning, with the skies above already looking a bit grey and forbidding.

                                                                                          Kayaks and drums. Pretty cool.

Once we got there, we got the kayaks ready and then dressed ourselves for the occasion. I was happy to learn how to get the kayak ready – I really enjoy the feeling of being capable and learning something practical and it’s been a while since I’ve had that opportunity.

                                                                                          I look good, no?

Despite spending every childhood summer in Cowes on the Isle of Wight,  I’ve never done any kind of watersport at all, so it was with a palpable sense of trepidation that I approached the water. With help, I clambered somewhat inelegantly into the small space inside the kayak and pushed off into the water with Hillary in her kayak close behind. By this point, those grey clouds had become darker and the wind was starting to increase. This hadn’t stopped a school party from getting into rowing boats though, so I thought I was safe enough.

There are no photos of me in the kayak, so you ‘re just going to have to take my word for it that I was there! Thankfully, my phone wouldn’t fit into the pocket in my jacket – for a brief moment I contemplated it, which just shows you how attached I am to the damn thing.

Although the sea kayak is bigger than the one I saw later on my weekend visit to Cambridge (which will be the subject for another post) to me it felt tiny and a little claustrophobic. The waves on the water, created by the wind, made me feel as though I was going to instantly capsize and I used my foot rests to brace myself more than I think was really necessary. I’ve been reading a book called ‘A Boat in Our Baggage’, by Maria Coffey to be inspired beforehand and it’s amazing to think that two people kayaked around the world in something little bigger than the kayak I was sat in.

We set off, with Hillary shouting instruction to help me sort out my paddling skills. You have to put the paddle in the water so that it glides, rather than letting it get too deep into the water. It took me a while to work it out.  Unfortunately, we were increasingly being hampered by the wind which was trying to dictate the direction we travelled in and the waves that wind was creating.

We made our way to the other side of the lake, realising that in the difficult weather conditions we were unlikely to do anything intrepid like cross the whole lake and I started to feel more comfortable in the kayak. Heading into the waves, instead of meeting them side on made me feel more in control and less likely to capsize.

Until I capsized.

I cannot begin to tell you what happened. One second I was sitting upright in the water and the next, with a brief ‘ooh’, I was under the water. Thankfully, everything happened as it was supposed to, and it wasn’t long before I was on the surface of the water gasping at the cold and the shock. A good job that phone wasn’t in my pocket, eh? I managed, with Hillary’s help, to swim to the shore, where we looked at our choices. I could either walk around the edge of the lake to meet Hillary at the car-park, wait where I was for her to paddle back and then drive round to meet me, or get back in the kayak and paddle back myself. It was freeing cold and so I picked the final option. After all, the movement of paddling would keep me warmer and the chance of me falling in again felt pretty slim. I got back in, after tipping out the water, and we set off. I felt fine really. To be honest, facing the thing that I’d been scared of, I thought that the worst had happened.

Then I capsized again…

Ok, by this time I’d had enough. Again, I came up from under the kayak easily enough, and again I swam to the shore. The edge of the water was really shallow but I was tired and cold, slipping all over the rocks and being a bit feeble. I sat on the rocks and we decided on plan B. Hillary set off in her kayak and I watched, shivering, as she slowly made her way across the water, battling the wind and the waves, to the other edge of the lake and the carpark.

It felt like forever before she came back, wielding a giant blanket to wrap me in. We made our way back to her car and I stripped in the carpark, covered in the aforementioned blanket, and got into some dry clothing. Then, sitting in the front seat of the car, I realised I couldn’t feel my feet. Really couldn’t feel them. I mentioned to Hillary that my feet looked like the toe-tagged corpse in every TV crime drama I’ve ever seen. She peered over and then said ‘it’s amazing how quickly the body starts to shut down, isn’t it?’

Erm…not the body. My body! My feet were dead. Thankfully, after quite a long and painful blasting with the in-car heaters, they slowly came back to life.

Even though this was a real challenge, I’d do it again. In better, calmer weather conditions, I can imagine it being a really peaceful way to spend time on the water and I was getting used to the feeling of  losing the bottom half of my body as I knew it, and gaining a bottom half that was a kayak. That might not make sense, but it’s how it feels.

I should also point out before I finish this post, as I came up from the water the first time I fell in, Hillary was readying herself to jump in and rescue me. Like I say, I’m very grateful to have her as my friend…

April 16, 2012

Rome: Instagram images

I’ve got a few Rome-based posts lined up but first I thought I’d share some of my photos with you. As I don’t have a big DSLR, I’ve used my trusty iPhone to take a few Instagram pictures. I hope they’ll give you a nice overview of my trip – see how many of the places you recognise!

April 9, 2012

Language Lessons.

By the time you read this, I’ll (hopefully) be on my way to Italy. Where I will attempt to use the three sentences I’ve managed to learn during my not-so-successful experience of self-taught Italian language lessons. I have realised that in order to make lots of progress, I need more structure to my language learning and a proper teacher. It has been fun learning slowly on my own though, and I need to remember that fun is partly the reason for learning.

I had to make fast progress with my Italian the last time I was there. We had a villa and I had to call the housekeeper (who spoke no English) and confirm my arrival time, that I needed the to collect the keys from her, and the location. A difficult situation, considering that I spoke no Italian at all and was armed only with an phrase book. Still, I managed it and it taught me a lesson.

So often I have waited until I thought I was good enough to do something before doing it, so I don’t let anyone down, or worse, make a giant fool of myself. I’ve since realised that I’m never going to be good at anything if I don’t at least try. Purely because I am interested in so many things, I never devote enough time to learning just one thing, in the way that a specialist would put in the hours and hours of study of a single thing in order to be truly exceptional. I will never be a concert pianist! However, waiting until I’m ‘perfect’ is no use at all, it just means I grind to a halt and never experience the things that I truly want to.

So my new attitude is to do things badly, instead of not doing them at all. I’m going to jump in, make a mess and be absolutely rubbish. Really, the worst that can happen (as long as we’re talking sensible things here, not attempting surgery) is that I probably will make a fool of myself. However, the next time I try the same thing, I will make less of a fool of myself, and so on. So, the waiters of Rome are going to be at the mercy of my three sentences, because I plan to unleash them at every opportunity in the hope that after three days of repeating myself, I will be a little less foolish. A little better.

In a similar vein, I wrote my first review as a guest blogger for The Culture Vulture recently. It was a small review piece about the Leeds Young People’s Film Festival, but the minute I pressed send on my email, I wanted to retrieve it so I could re-write the whole thing. It was a good example for me of jumping in and taking a risk. Assuming I get the chance, the next time I write for them, I will be better, but the fact is that my little post was published on a website that I value and respect enormously, So I’ve made progress with something I’ve been trying to pluck up the courage to do for ages and it is such a great feeling.

Next on the list of things to do badly are kayaking and (possibly) singing or even hula hooping…

So, perhaps you could take a risk and have a go at something scary, instead of waiting until you think you’re good enough. You never know, you’re probably already better than you think…