Beginning my clutter overhaul

In many ways I would like to think I lead a fairly minimalist lifestyle. Five years ago, my husband Chris and I downsized from our house and moved into a smaller apartment. Before we moved we significantly reduced our possessions and spent many weekends taking stuff to charity shops and to the tip.

Nearly 5 years on and the clutter is starting to build again… I’m not overly keen on spending time ‘tidying up’ as there always seems something better I could be doing. So I have to be in the mood to have a sort out…

Well… I’ve made a start today! The first bit of decluttering I’ve undertaken this year began with a clothes sort-out. As this ties in with my ‘capsule wardrobe‘ challenge, I’ve put the details under that heading.

As well as finishing off my clothing declutter, I also need to focus on the following:

  • Sorting through my paperwork (tends to build up however hard you try to reduce it)
  • Sorting through my books (I now buy Kindle books but have quite a few books that I haven’t even looked at for 5 or even 10 years…)
  • Sorting the kitchen cupboards (checking everything is in date and fit for consumption)
  • Sorting the freezer

So, as mentioned above, I’m not entirely new to the concept of minimalism and de-cluttering. One of the main reasons for doing this is just to keep life simple. Sorting through heaving wardrobes trying to find something to wear is stressful and I’m keen that my life is as stress-free and easy as possible.

Decluttering isn’t just of the material nature… I’ve got my meditation classes starting next Tuesday in order to do some mind de-cluttering!

 

 

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First step: getting rid of unwanted clothes

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Clothes to get rid of

Its Easter Saturday today which means a long four day weekend and the perfect time to start making some progress towards a capsule wardrobe!

Wikipedia explains the official term capsule wardrobe was coined in the 1970’s by somebody called Susie Faux with the idea being you create a wardrobe with a few essential pieces of key clothing that don’t go out of fashion.

Like most things, you can take this type of phrase and adapt it as you wish. My reasons for creating a capsule wardrobe are as follows:

  • Reduce the stress of too much clothing clutter
  • Create more space in my wardrobe
  • Only keep clothes I actually wear

With reference to the third point above it has been said that the 80:20 rule often applies to clothes and I found several web articles on this. The idea is “many people wear only 20% of their clothes for 80% of the time”. I think this is a fairly accurate description of the frequency of the clothes I wear!

I’ve made the initial attempt at de-cluttering my wardrobe… I think I still have a few more things to reduce before I can official say I have a ‘capsule wardrobe’ but I’m pleased I’ve made a start today!

These were the basic rules I applied to my clothing de-clutter:

  1. Get rid of anything that is too big – now that I’ve lost nearly 2 stones since 4th December 2017 I don’t want to keep anything that is too big ‘just in case’. I need to get it into my head that my current size is my size and that it is a permanent thing and not a temporary state. So after trying multiple things on I’ve sifted out various items of larger clothing that now look ridiculously baggy.
  2. Get rid of old and tired looking clothes – and faded and generally clothes that are past their best. Some of these items of clothing have hung around in my wardrobe for a couple of years and are just taking up space.
  3. Just keep a small number of ‘indoor’ clothes – like the old pair of jeans that you wouldn’t want to wear if you are going out but are OK to wear around the home. You only need one such pair! And maybe a couple of tops…
  4. Get rid of clothes I haven’t worn in a while – I don’t want to put a time limit on these as some only get worn on certain types of occasion. For example, I may not have worn my strappy sandals for 12 months but that doesn’t mean I won’t wear them in the summer. I think this just needs a bit of common sense and maybe re-phrasing to ‘get rid of clothes I am not intending to wear ever again’…

So I still have my shoes and underwear to go through but already I have a nice big chunk of space in my wardrobe!

And I need to start thinking more carefully about how I’m going to apply the idea of a capsule wardrobe which I think is something more than just getting rid of a few clothes…

 

 

Vegapril starts tomorrow

“The number of vegans in Britain has risen by 360% in 10 years” says the Daily Telegraph.

This means that over half a million people or over 1% of the UK population has turned to a vegan diet, a choice more popular with the younger generation. The Telegraph suggests the main factors driving this trend are healthy eating and a growing awareness about the way animals are farmed.

My month as a vegan is starting tomorrow, 1st April which also happens to be Easter Sunday. And happens to coincide with a visit to my elderly parents-in-law.

My in-laws live in Norfolk which is a two hour drive and means we don’t get to see them as often as we would if they lived closer. So when we visit they usually book up a restaurant and the four of us go out for dinner which saves them any work and we can maximise the time we have with them.

Unfortunately my father-in-law hasn’t been too well and isn’t feeling up to going out so my mother-in-law is going to cook for us. She has kindly offered to cook a chickpea and aubergine curry which sounds delicious. However, with my father-in-law being unwell I don’t want to give her anything else to have to think about. So I haven’t actually told her that I am starting a vegan month…

Similar to my thoughts as mentioned when I started my March vegetarian month, I don’t like to put people to any trouble, particularly as she is elderly and cooking for us and looking after my father-in-law.

Lets see how things go tomorrow…

In addition, I’ve just checked on the wine situation for vegans. Apparently most wine does contain small amounts of animal by-products. I’m not sure I want to give up wine as well for a month so on the basis I only usually have about 3 – 4 glasses of red wine a week, I’ll continue to drink the odd glass of wine on my vegan month but will make a point of seeking out vegan wine.

I’ve been having oat milk on my breakfast cereal for over a year and I now prefer this to cows milk. The only milk I do have is in coffee which means I’ll need to drink black coffee from tomorrow. I think I’ll miss having milk in my coffee…

I’m going to try my best to follow a vegan diet by removing all meat, fish, dairy and eggs and will try to substitute these for healthy options where possible. And the odd glass of wine…

And I’ve discovered that vegans eat dark chocolate! Hurrah!

 

 

Conclusion on a vegetarian lifestyle

Today is the final day of my month as a vegetarian and tomorrow I switch to vegan.

I’ve spent the whole of March on a diet which has excluded all meat and fish products which according to the Vegetarian Society is a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. This is the term used for vegetarians who eat dairy products and is the most common type of vegetarian.

Firstly I can say I found it very easy to lead a vegetarian lifestyle which is probably because my husband has been a pescatarian for a number of years, that is, someone who doesn’t eat meat but who does eat fish. He also occasionally has chicken but it has to be free-range organic chicken.

Rather than cooking separate meals, I’ve also tended to follow this diet too. So the main difference has been the lack of fish or chicken for a month.

As I mentioned in the previous ‘mid month‘ update, our dinners have contained meat substitutes such as Quorn which I still have mixed feelings about due to it being processed. Also, if you substitute lean meat such as chicken or turkey for say a cheese flan or cheese pasty, this has to be the more unhealthy choice too.

My conclusion?

In my view a vegetarian diet is easy to follow although, unless you limit the processed meat substitutes, cheese and pastry, I can’t really see the health benefits.

In addition, I would think there is greater suffering for cows if you consume larger amounts of cheese and milk. Rather than being slaughtered at a young age, cows have to go through multiple pregnancies throughout their lives to meet the demand for human consumption of their milk. So which is worse?

As mentioned, I’m starting ‘Vegapril’ (instead of Veganuary) tomorrow to experience a month as a vegan. Although the increase in people choosing a vegan lifestyle is rapidly increasing, I’m anticipating a few more challenges…

 

 

Meditation course booked!

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Now that I’ve reached 50 years of age I’m working hard on improving my physical health however I do realise its just as important to consider the health of your mind too.

I’ve read the odd book on mindfulness and spirituality including the brilliant ‘The Power of Now‘ by Eckhart Tolle, a book I had to read more than once just to get my head around it. Tolle explains the only way to live your life is in the present moment rather than worrying about the past (which has gone) or the future (which isn’t here yet). This makes perfect sense although is sometimes easier said than done!

Especially the future bit… your future is to a certain extent determined by what and how you plan for today… if you drift through your life and don’t plan anything, things tend not to happen. Nobody knocks on your door and produces a life for you and I’m a firm believer that you create your own luck and create your own happiness in life. Which requires thinking about the future…

Anyway… back to the point before I start over-thinking… I did experience a touch of mind calming and a couple of minutes of meditation while doing yoga classes recently in the Maldives but have never participated in ‘proper’ meditation sessions…

Well… Chris (my husband) and I have just booked a 6 week course of weekly beginners meditation sessions to start after Easter! I’m quite intrigued as I’m not really sure what to expect…

I’ll post updates in due course…

UPDATE: Sadly the meditation course was cancelled due to lack of participants… will search for another one…

 

 

 

Week 12 walking progress

Week 12 walking progress:

  • Total for week 12 = 52 miles
  • Average per day for this week (52 / 7) = 7.43
  • Running total = 316 + 52 = 368 miles
  • Miles left to walk in 2018 (1050 – 368) = 682

Wow! Massive effort this week! Am I becoming obsessed? I’ve been in the office 4 times this week which, given that I walk over 5 miles a day (to and from stations as the walking element of my commute) every time I go into London to work, this has pushed things up a it.

In addition, I decided to walk through Central London instead of getting the tube during the working day (on top of the daily London trek from and to the station). For example its nearly 2 miles from one of our Central London offices to another one. And meeting my daughter in the West End after work racked up another couple of miles. So one day I actually walked 14 miles just by not taking the tube! (And burned off a huge 1200 extra calories too)

And on Sunday I did 12 miles with my local walking club…

Posting these updates every week or two is certainly helping to keep me motivated and look for ways of walking extra miles!

 

 

50 future adventures

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Milford Sound, New Zealand

Oh yes… I am going to have fun with this one!

Dream time as I plan 50 adventures for the next 50 years in the manner of a travel bucket list…

  1. Climb Kilimanjaro… pencilled in for 2019…
  2. Scotland Hebridean island hopping
  3. Explore Madagascar
  4. Trek Jordan
  5. Annapurna trek
  6. Travel overland from Cartagena (Colombia) to Quito (Ecuador)… really keen to explore much more of Colombia, and we didn’t get to Ecuador during our 2016 travels
  7. Galapagos Islands
  8. Australia Great Ocean road trip + a week of trekking in Tasmania
  9. Fiji and the Cook Islands; keen to visit more South Pacific islands after an amazing time in French Polynesia
  10. Grand Europe road trip or two, or three… Northern Europe (Scandinavia); Southern Europe (France, Spain and Portugal); Central Europe (Switzerland, Germany, Austria)…
  11. Spend 6-8 weeks walking the entire length of the South West coast path
  12. Walk a section of the Italian coastline
  13. Kerala yoga retreat
  14. Canada Rocky Mountains hiking and road trippin’
  15. US National Parks: 3 month road trip
  16. Explore more of Africa: Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda…
  17. Northern India: maybe an overland trip from Kathmandu (Nepal) to Delhi?
  18. Sandals Bahamas: after getting married in Sandals Whitehouse Jamaica, Chris and I have planned this little indulgence for our 10th wedding anniversary
  19. Chillin’ in St Kitts or and Tobago… or and Grenada…
  20. South Africa and Namibia: travelling up from Cape Town to Windhoek?
  21. Greek island hopping: 3 – 4 weeks of getting ferries between the islands
  22. A grand tour of China
  23. Norwegian Fjords cruise
  24. Andorra activity holiday
  25. Hiking in the Dolomites, Italy
  26. Myanmar
  27. Taiwan and South Korea
  28. 3 weeks exploring more of Japan
  29. Cruisin’ from Boston to Quebec
  30. Exploring the ‘Stans: Kazakhstan; Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan
  31. Exploring Mexico in detail!
  32. Hike the Samaria Gorge in Crete
  33. Spend more time in Central America; Nicaragua’s Corn Islands and a bit more time in Costa Rica; and maybe another visit to Guatemala
  34. A month or two in Hawaii, one of our favourite places in the World!
  35. Explore Armenia and Georgia
  36. Zanzibar, the Spice Island!
  37. Trek the West Highland Way in Scotland
  38. More backpacking Europe by train
  39. Caribbean cruise
  40. Trekking in Patagonia
  41. Cruising the South Pacific… something for when we’re older…
  42. Grand Scotland road trip
  43. Norway: Lofoten Islands
  44. Summer trip to Iceland to drive the Icelandic ring road
  45. Exploring the Balkans: Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro…
  46. Trans Siberian Railway: Moscow to Beijing
  47. More chillin’ and beach-life in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand
  48. Walk the Camino de Santiago
  49. More weekend breaks in the UK and Europe!
  50. More islands: Azores, Cape Verde, Corsica, Capri…

I’m generally going to focus on the more active trips (such as the treks) first and leave the more leisurely ones (the cruises) for later!

There are so many exciting places in the World although I don’t think some of these trips will be possible until Chris and I retire… it would be fantastic to have another career break but at the moment this doesn’t seem very likely due to a) getting agreement again from work and b) lack of money! I wonder how many 60 somethings walk the entire South West Coast Path in one go? But never say never… I’ll try and experience as many of these as possible 🙂

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Week 11 walking progress

Week 11 walking progress:

  • Total for week 11 = 39 miles
  • Average per day for this week (37 / 7) = 5.57
  • Running total = 277 + 39 = 316 miles
  • Miles left to walk in 2018 (1050 – 316) = 734

Throughout the last couple of weeks I’ve been making a really conscious effort to push up my walking mileage. This has included going for a short walk at lunchtime (when in the office) and putting extra miles in while at the gym. I’ve now started to include the extra gym miles in my weekly total. I’ve also been walking ‘the long way round’ for example when walking to the Post Office just to add more miles.

We’ve had yet more snow in the UK throughout the last weekend meaning another snowy walk on Sunday. This time we went walking with a few friends before going back to theirs for a warm bowl of chilli. We’ve had more snow than usual this winter and I’m looking forward to spring time!

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Weekend walking with friends

 

 

March book review

Book number 5

Book read: Balancing on Blue by Keith Foskett

A fantastic account of the authors incredible 2,200 mile journey as he made his way on foot the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. This makes the recent 632 mile South West Coast Path book I read look somewhat tame although both are amazing achievements…

Both books, and also the Kamikaze Kangaroo book which had a section where the author trekked Australia’s 623 mile Bibbulmun Track are really starting to inspire me to do a long distance walk. My feet are getting itchier by the day…

At the moment the UK’s South West Coast Path is probably the most realistic to aspire to (no bears or rattlesnakes to contend with) although I don’t think I would get another career break from work any time soon…  And I haven’t actually done anything more challenging than a weekend of hiking… maybe I should try a week of daily hikes first?

This was another of those books I got through fairly quickly as it was hard to put down… I loved the way Fozzie effortlessly weaved his feelings, experiences and connections with the harsh facts of what it’s like to experience life as a thru-hiker on the trail.

Again, much of this book resonated with my constant desire to travel and explore… “the desire to roam is all I dream of” says Keith. This is me. I am always dreaming of exploring but the difference is, Keith is out there doing it while I’m spending far too much time dreaming while in the office…

I found many more inspiring quotes in Fozzie’s book and another was from one of his trail buddies, who, upon his return back into civilization said:

Page: 261

“I had no desire to own anything other than the crappiest car in existence. It also acted as a people-filter. I had little time for anyone who judged me on the basis of my car, and you would be surprised how few people that left.”

I can definitely identify with that too!

I’m keen to read more of Fozzie’s books… I’ve been thinking that maybe I should expand my literary horizons and read a book that isn’t a travel book but I haven’t quite managed to do that yet… I’ve now started following the adventures of a family travelling the world in a camper van…

 

 

Mountain experience

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Climbing Glyder Fach

While I’ve completed many treks through the UK’s Lake District, Peak District, coastal paths and quite a few abroad, I don’t have a huge amount of mountain experience. I have, however, been fortunate to have climbed the following UK mountains:

Scafell Pike 978 m

Snowdon 1085 m

Glyder Fach 990 m

Moel Siabod 872 m

Ben More 966 m

The last mountain I climbed was Ben More in May 2017 which is the highest mountain on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. Due to being unfit and at least a stone or so overweight I really struggled with this. We were fortunate to have perfect weather conditions yet I found the whole climb daunting and difficult as I tried to haul my weight up the steep slopes towards the summit. This frustration at being so unfit was actually one of my real driving forces to get much fitter in 2018.

I have a weekend in Snowdonia coming up and while I’m not yet sure which mountain we will climb I am hoping that with my weight loss and increased exercise routine (gym, swimming and walking) I won’t find the next mountain climb to be quite as much of a struggle!