Posts tagged ‘35:35’

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…

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February 8, 2012

Theme Tune.

I went to the doctors today and during the course of our discussion she referred to me as ‘an older woman’. This young and impossibly glamorous GP made me feel dreadful, and although I laughed it off at the time, on my walk home, I was close to tears. I know I’m coming across as a bit of a drama queen but it was genuinely a shock. I feel as though I’m only just getting going with my life and here I was being written off as ‘older’.

So, I stuck my Ipod on, turned on shuffle, and miracle of miracles, my theme tune came on.

That’s right. I have a theme tune. It’s not my favourite song ever made – I’m not sure that I have a favourite. It is, however, the song that I choose when I want to pull myself together and get myself off the sofa. It’s the one that will be on the soundtrack of  the film of my life story, in which I will be played by Drew Barrymore. Or Kate Winslet. I need to decide before filming begins… I recommend a theme tune. It never fails to get me in a better frame of mind, more upbeat and positive. Helpful when people call me ‘older’, when I need to get off the sofa and into the gym, when I want to get working on one of my challenges.

The one  thing that her comment did do is to remind me of the swiftness of time. I am thirty-five. I will be thirty-six in June and I’m still only half way through my 35:35 Challenge. At this point I am fairly sure that I won’t make it to 35 Challenges by June. I have to say that I’m not terribly bothered by this. The point of the challenge was to get me out of a rut. It’s already done this.

Yesterday I signed up to Joel Runyon’s Impossible League. I love that it sounds like a group of super heroes. I’ve already changed my Bucket List to ‘A List of Impossible Things’ – which, unlike a static Bucket List, is a dynamic, ever-changing list of things, some of which are linked together. A good example of this might be a running goal, which starts at 5K and then ultimately might result in a marathon. As there is no limit on the variety of things that can be added to this list, it’s great for a scanner. I might even add my List of Impossible Things here, so that you can all see my progress and make sure I keep on track. I’m excited about joining this community, and challenging myself to do the Impossible. I will be the super hero in my own life story. Even if I’m ‘older’!

And my theme tune? “The Time is Now’ by Moloko…

July 8, 2011

Let’s get physical!

Hello folks.

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. Life is pretty hectic, although truthfully, I’ve spent much of the last couple of weeks sitting on the sofa watching other people expend energy – at Wimbledon and now the Tour De France.

Watching incredible sports people at the peak of physical fitness and determination, and even after witnessing today’s sad accident that has just befallen Bradley Wiggins of the Team Sky Pro-cycling team, my interest has been fuelled in undertaking more physical challenges and seeing what my body can achieve. Even clearly lots of pain after breaking a collar bone, Wiggins was already talking about when he would be fit enough to start training. What amazing dedication. He was in such great shape, with a chance of the yellow jersey this year and now we’ll never know. I wish him a speedy recovery.

My relationship with my body changed so much after having children, especially the first time around when my baby daughter and I nearly died. The fundamental shift in my thinking happened after this, as many of the things which I had been self critical about really ceased to have the same power over me.

I can have children. This is the biggest and most amazing thing my body has achieved, for which I will be eternally grateful. I cannot get into a pair of size ten jeans (although for a brief shining period of last summer, I could) but it doesn’t matter. Nor do I have the greatest skin, having both a few spots and now wrinkles. Who knew you got both at once? I thought I’d move seamlessly from one skin problem into another, not that they’d just pile up on top of each other! But anyway, although I do have a weakness for lovely skincare products, it doesn’t bother me in the way it once did. After two emergency c- sections, I have tram line scars across a stomach which on a bad day resembles pink blancmange anyway, so a couple of wrinkles are really neither here nor there. What matters more, is not what my body looks like, but what it can DO.

I can walk, run, dance, swim, ride a horse. I can dig my allotment. I can sing (terribly, but with gusto) while I’m in the shower. I can carry my kids around on my shoulders. One at a time, you understand, I’m not the Hulk. I can cuddle them both at once though, which is lovely. I also seem to be popular for sitting on, whilst watching TV together,  and I can also watch films, read books, listen to music, play games. I can eat, drink and be merry. I can explore the world and climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

But what interests me now, is what else could I do? Could  I run a marathon? Get back on a bicycle, for the first time since a childhood accident put me off for life? Climb a mountain? Where are my limits? It would be great to know what I can achieve with this one body, with its scars and wrinkles!

Well, I’ve decided to take some inspiration from the sports people I have been watching. The bike has been taken out of storage ( thanks to my lovely friend Hannah who left it with me after she emigrated) and is being prepared for my first wobbly trial. The running has increased to three times a week in preparation for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge to raise money for Bliss (the premature baby charity) which is now in the diary for September and I am even contemplating Cycletta in October – which is a women-only 40k cycle ride on closed roads for charity. Assuming that I make it past those first rides and find someone willing enough to be my team mate, that is!

So, 35:35 Challenge has taken on a distinctly physical feel to it. For now, anyway. Other things are still in progress, including the flying and music. More on which another day…

June 9, 2011

Buongiorno, numero due!

I’ve written before on my preferred styles of learning, and my desire to have a go at some new methods, and it seems that the 35:35 Challenge is a great opportunity to give them a go!

One of my 35 Challenges was to visit somewhere new. Although I adore Paris with a passion I reserve for very few things, the world is a very big place and to only return to the same place, however wonderful, feels a bit self- limiting. So, even though I will be attempting (finances notwithstanding) to continue the annual pilgrimage to Paris, I am going to try and see a bit more of the world too.

With the children being so young, and with one eye on my carbon footprint, this really means the UK and Europe for now. We took the kids to Italy when they were small; Ben was only 4 months old, which when I think back, was actually quite a brave thing to do. Mind you, at least small babies stay where you put them! Now he’s two, I need eyes in the back of my head. The people we met in Italy were just lovely, the Tuscan countryside was amazing, and I loved the places we visited, such as Lucca and Florence, even though I spent much more time lounging around in local cafes than going to visit the Renaissance art!

So, as a result of that experience, I’ve decided to visit Rome. I’ve never been, it looks incredible and I can get there easily. This is going to be a break for just my husband and I, with the little ones staying with their adored and long-suffering grandparents ( thank you!)

Anyway, the point of all this waffle is that I always like to learn a bit of the language of any country I visit. I think it’s only polite, plus it usually means that  you have a better experience. Paris has a reputation for being a rude city, but I’ve never experienced this, perhaps because everyone is too busy trying not to laugh at my appalling accent…

So it’s time to commence Challenge 2 – to learn Italian. I managed a little bit the last time we visited, and Eve was happily shouting “ciao” to everyone after only a day there – proof that language learning is easiest when you’re a small child!

To do this, I have chosen several different new learning methods.

Number 1: Earworms. This is a very new idea for me and is based around the understanding that we retain information better when it’s delivered to us via music and rhythm – how many of us remember odd phrases in foreign languages as a result of song lyrics? Here’s the link, if you fancy a look: earworms mbt® is a revolutionary accelerated learning technique that takes the hard work out of learning.  I’ll be uploading this to my Ipod and listening to it every day.

Number 2: BBC Active | Talk Italian is the second method I’m going to use. A more traditional book and CD to work through, I’ve had a bit of success using this kind of method before, but it does require a bit more time spending on it, sitting at home and working through exercises.

Number 3: The third method is a bit of fun. MindSnacks Italian – Language Learning Program for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store. This is basically a games based language learning app for the iPhone, which helps you to learn more vocabulary through spelling and recognition.

So, there we are, I’m starting today. Wish me luck.

Ciao!

June 7, 2011

Let the challenge commence…

So, I was 35 yesterday. Hurrah for me. I spent most of the day under a pile of cake or having my glass of fizzy wine topped up, which is as good a way as any to spend a Monday.

Today, however is the first day of my self imposed 35:35 Challenge.

Despite plenty of more exciting suggestions, I decided to start small, with creme bruleé making. I used 6 egg yolks and so decided to make a bunch of meringues too ( an egg white omelette being just a touch too Hollywood for this house) so we can have lots of Eton Mess this week.

I’ve been meaning to have a go at this particular dessert for ages, but the combination of custard making and boiling sugar made me a bit nervous, but today I managed to recover the custard after it threatened to split and then left them all to cool before adding the sugar to the top and caramelising with a cook’s blowtorch – one of the few things in the world that somehow manages to be both ordinary and terribly thrilling.

I think they look pretty good.

Here's the proof!

I think that it’s a good job that some of my challenge are going to be somewhat more physical ( like the Yorkshire 3 Peaks!) as I am now going to eat all three of these…

Any more ideas out there? Please let me know!